In 2002, I was part of a delegation that traveled to Cuba (on a license through Global Exchange) to attend a medical conference and associated events. It was an incredible trip! Here are some photos from a carpal tunnel surgery at the hospital where acupuncture was used, as well as photos from the conference itself. I included a photo of myself because I was so excited to be able to attend the surgery and witness this with my own eyes, something evident in the photo.
The surgery as I remember it: A needle was inserted deep into the axilla (armpit) with electrical stimulation for approximately 20minutes. When the patient reported numbness down her extremity, a local anesthetic was injected at the surgical site (her wrist) to further produce numbness. There was a drape hung so that the patient would not see the surgery itself. As far as I know she was not given any oral sedatives: she was alert, calm, and able to respond to physician questions. As the doctor performed surgery, he would ask questions to the patient such as, “please move your index finger” and the patient, non-drowsy and fully awake, would do so with ease. There was an explanation provided that being able to communicate well with the patient helped the surgeon because he could confirm which tendons he was working with, which of course was useful since he was about to surgically cut one. After the surgery, the patient was calm, happy, and shared a beautiful smile with us. No stress.
Here’s a 2016 video about acupuncture anesthesia in the US: http://www.cctv-america.com/2016/02/07/us-patients-offered-acupuncture-as-anesthesia-alternative