European Journal of Anaesthesiology

Original Article

Recollection of dreams after short general anaesthesia: influence on patient anxiety and satisfaction

K. Hellwagner a1c1, A. Holzer a1, B. Gustorf a1, K. Schroegendorfer a1, M. Greher a1, M. Weindlmayr-Goettel a1, B. Saletu a2 and F. X. Lackner a1
a1 University of Vienna, Department of Anaesthesia and General Intensive Care (A & B), Vienna, Austria
a2 University of Vienna, Department of Psychiatry, Vienna, Austria

Article author query
hellwagner k   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
holzer a   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
gustorf b   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
schroegendorfer k   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
greher m   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
weindlmayr-goettel m   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
saletu b   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
lackner fx   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Background and objective: We ascertained whether dreams during short general anaesthesia influence subsequent patient satisfaction and anxiety.

Methods: Fifty female patients were randomized into two groups to test for a difference between intravenous and inhalational anaesthesias. In Group Propo, anaesthesia was induced and maintained with propofol; in Group Metho–Iso, anaesthesia was induced with methohexital and maintained with isoflurane. Satisfaction and anxiety with anaesthesia were evaluated using a visual analogue scale from 0 to 100. Dream incidence rate, satisfaction and anxiety were assessed from immediately after waking until 3 months later.

Results: Seventeen patients (34%) dreamed during anaesthesia. There were no significant differences in satisfaction or anxiety after anaesthesia between the dreaming and non-dreaming patients (satisfaction, 92.3 ± 21.6 versus 92.1 ± 21.6; anxiety, 21.1 ± 21.1 versus 30.3± 32.1), or between Group Propo and Group Metho–Iso (satisfaction, 94.4 ± 19.3 versus 90.0 ± 23.4; anxiety, 26.0 ± 27.6 versus 28.4 ± 30.7). There was no significant difference in the incidence rate of dreaming with the type of anaesthesia used (Group Propo, 11 patients; Group Metho–Iso, 6 patients).

Conclusions: Dreaming during general anaesthesia is common but does not influence satisfaction or anxiety after anaesthesia.

(Accepted August 2002)

Key Words: ANAESTHESIA GENERAL, anaesthesia inhalation, anaesthesia intravenous; BEHAVIOUR, personal satisfaction; EMOTIONS, anxiety; MENTAL PROCESSES, cognition, dreams, imagination; PSYCHOLOGICAL PHENOMENA, sleep.

c1 Correspondence to: Klaus Hellwagner, Department of Anaesthesia and General Intensive Care, University of Vienna, Waehringer Guertel 18–20, A-1090 Vienna, Austria. E-mail:; Tel: +43 1 40400 4107; Fax: +43 1 40400 4028