Virtual reality could reduce need for intravenous sedation


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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Providing patients with virtual reality sessions before and during locoregional anaesthesia for certain procedures could substantially reduce pain and the need for intravenous sedation (IVS), according to a new research. 

As part of a new trial, researchers investigated if virtual reality hypnosis distraction (VRHD) could reduce the need for IVS by at least 50 per cent during locoregional anaesthesia among patients undergoing orthopaedic surgery. The patients were randomised to standard IVS during locoregional anaesthesia (n=20); VRHD during locoregional anaesthesia, with IVS if patients reported pain scores of greater than three out of 10 (n=20); and VRHD before and during locoregional anaesthesia, with IVS sedation given if patients reported pain scores >3 (n=20). The VRHD therapy consisted of watching relaxing content of a submarine ride and life under the sea. 

Analyses showed that 25 per cent of patients receiving VRHD during local anaesthesia required IVS, whilst only 10 per cent of patients given VRHD both before and during locoregional anaesthesia needed further sedation.

"Given the immersive and distracting nature of the virtual reality experience, this technology has the ability to act as a preventive intervention transforming local anaesthesia into a less distressing and potentially pain-free medical procedure," said co-author Dr Dragos Chirnoaga from CUB Erasmus Hospital in Belgium.