Some Patients Conscious Under Surgical Anesthesia

Research suggests that about 1 in 1,000 patients undergoing surgery will become conscious, usually in a fleeting moment, while still sedated and appearing unresponsive. Researchers wanted to know more about this to increase understanding of consciousness, which remains scientifically elusive. So they tested patients with surgical anesthesia (but not surgery) and found that many could recount images and events, some realistic, some dreamlike — another research step for those who want to know what happens to consciousness when we aren’t “conscious.”

Anesthesia May Leave Patients Conscious—and Finally Show Consciousness in the Brain