Wearing a VR headset during surgery could reduce the amount of anesthesia needed, study finds

According to a study, the amount of anesthesia an operated patient needs could be reduced if they wear a virtual reality (VR) headset during the procedure.

Immersion in an operating room (OR) virtual reality experience has been found to reduce pain and anxiety as milder chemical sedation is required.

Scientists from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in MassachusettsUnited States, studied the responses of patients who wore a helmet during hand surgery.

Although they could request a sedative at any time during the procedure, the group ended up receiving lower doses than a control group that did not use VR.

They also spent less time in the post-anaesthesia care unit and reported the same level of satisfaction as the control group.

It is hoped that these findings may reduce cases of excessive sedation and its harmful side effects in the future.

A study found that the amount of anesthesia an operated patient needs could be reduced if they wore a virtual reality (VR) headset during the procedure. A: Image of a study patient using virtual reality equipment. B: Screenshot of a typical immersive environment with an example of text communication from study staff

Although they could request a sedative at any time during the procedure, the group ended up receiving lower doses than a control group that did not use VR.  They also spent less time in the post-anaesthesia care unit and reported the same level of satisfaction as the control group.  A: Mean total dose of propofol per group.  B: Median length of stay in SSR by group

Although they could request a sedative at any time during the procedure, the group ended up receiving lower doses than a control group that did not use VR. They also spent less time in the post-anaesthesia care unit and reported the same level of satisfaction as the control group. A: Mean total dose of propofol per group. B: Median length of stay in SSR by group

VIRTUAL REALITY EXPLAINED

Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of an environment or situation.

  • It immerses the user by giving them the impression of being in the simulated reality through images and sounds
  • For example, in VR, you might feel like you’re climbing a mountain while sitting at home.

Virtual reality is the term used to describe a three-dimensional computer-generated environment that can be explored and with which a person can interact.

This person is part of this virtual world or is immersed in this environment and while there, is able to manipulate objects or perform a series of actions.

How is virtual reality made?

Virtual reality is usually implemented using computer technology. There are a range of systems used for this purpose, such as helmets, omnidirectional treadmills and special gloves.

These are used to stimulate our senses together to create the illusion of reality.

Lead author and anesthetist Dr Brian P. O’Gara said: “With the increase in the amount of time people spend at the keyboard combined with the aging of our population, there is a projected increased need for routine elective surgeries. from the hand.

The optimization of the management of these patients will undoubtedly require a modification of anesthetic practices.

“The purported benefit of virtual reality in caring for patients with pain or anxiety is to provide an immersive experience capable of distracting the mind from the treatment of the inconveniences associated with surgery.”

According to the British Society for Surgery of the Hand, the demand for elective hand surgery is expected to increase by 39% over the next decade.

This is due to the aging population and the prevalence of diabetes, both of which contribute to common hand conditions.

These include carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis, and Dupuytren’s disease.

Patients undergoing hand surgery typically receive regional anesthesia to block pain in the area during the procedure, along with monitored anesthesia care (MAC).

This usually involves an intravenous sedative – such as propofol – to keep patients drowsy and calm, but awake enough to follow instructions as needed.

However, too much sedation can lead to low blood pressure, upper airway obstruction, or more serious complications like stroke, heart attack, or respiratory failure.

For this study, published today in PLOS ONEthe doctors aimed to find out if virtual reality immersion reduced the dose of sedative needed during hand surgery, without negatively impacting patient satisfaction.

The team recruited 17 adults who were scheduled to undergo hand surgery with regional anesthesia and MAC to experience virtual reality during their procedure.

They wore noise-cancelling headphones and earphones and chose one of the immersive 360-degree environments.

These were each designed to promote relaxation and calm, and options included meadow, forest, or mountaintop.

Another group of 17 people who received regional anesthesia and MAC were enrolled as a control group and did not wear helmets.

For both groups, additional anesthetics and analgesics could be administered either at the patient’s request or at the clinical judgment of the anesthesiologist.

Significantly more patients in the VR group received additional local anesthesia by the surgeon than in the control group.  This suggests that receiving anesthesia before VR-assisted surgery is important for the success of the technique (stock image)

Significantly more patients in the VR group received additional local anesthesia by the surgeon than in the control group. This suggests that receiving anesthesia before VR-assisted surgery is important for the success of the technique (stock image)

The results revealed that patients in the VR group received significantly less propofol than those in the control group – a median of 260 mg less per case.

In fact, only four of the patients in this group received it at all, while all patients in the control group received the sedative.

However, significantly more patients in the VR group received additional local anesthesia by the surgeon than in the control group.

This suggests that receiving anesthesia prior to VR-assisted surgery is important for the success of the technique.

Patients also received questionnaires after surgery asking them to self-report any pain, stress, or functional difficulty.

No difference was found in overall satisfaction between the VR and control groups, and both said their pain was well controlled and they felt relaxed during their surgery.

There were also no significant differences between the groups’ postoperative pain scores and functional outcomes, or perioperative opioid doses.

However, the VR group was discharged from the hospital an average of 22 minutes earlier than their counterparts in the control group.

“Reducing post-anesthesia care unit stay could help optimize perioperative efficiency if the virtual reality technique were used more widely,” Dr. O’Gara said.

“Our trial is novel in that it is the first to report a significant reduction in sedative dose with virtual reality immersion during hand surgery in adults.

“Through VR immersion, potential harm from unnecessary sedation can be avoided without compromising patient comfort during hand surgery”

NHS medical students are now training on HOLOGRAMS to practice treating anaphylaxis and pneumonia

Patient holograms are to be used to train UK medical students in a world first.

Doctors at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge will wear virtual reality headsets and treat lifelike 3D patients as part of their training.

The pioneering technology will be used to teach a range of modules, starting with respiratory and emergency medicine.

Wearing the headsets or using their smartphones or tablets, students can see themselves but also interact with a multi-layered holographic patient.

Interns will give patients medication, hook them up to ventilation, and read their vital signs.

Learn more here

Wearing mixed reality headsets or using their smartphones or tablets, students can see each other as well as interact with a multi-layered, medically accurate holographic patient

Wearing mixed reality headsets or using their smartphones or tablets, students can see each other as well as interact with a multi-layered, medically accurate holographic patient