Virtual Reality Hypnosis Distraction used to reduce the need for intravenous sedation

June 25, 2019

An article written in “HIT Infrastructure” describes the possible positive effects of using Virtual Reality Hypnosis Distraction (VRHD) to minimize the need for sedation during surgery. Dr. Dragos Chirnoaga from CUB Erasmus Hospital, Brussels, Belgium led the trial which consisted of a randomized selection of 60 patients undergoing orthopedic surgery. 20 of the patients were in the control group and received regional anesthesia along with intravenous sedation without use of any VR technology. The other 40 patients were separated into two groups using the VRHD therapy,  20 received VRHD during regional anesthesia and the remaining 20 patients received VRHD therapy before and during anesthesia. For both of these groups intravenous sedation was administered if the patient reported pain between 3 and 10. The VRHD therapy consisted of video content of a “submarine ride and life under the sea” shown through virtual reality goggles paired with a calming voice through headphones.

The results showed that only 25% of patients receiving the VRHD therapy during anesthesia required intravenous sedation, with the number decreasing to 10% for patients that received the therapy before and during anesthesia.

EHC NOTE:  While it remains unclear exactly how virtual reality reduces the need for intravenous sedation, the purpose of the therapy is to relax the patient and distract their mind from feelings of pain. Could virtual reality facilitate minor procedures and mitigate the need for conscious sedation and/or MAC? While uses for VRHD therapy in anesthesia are still premature there are potentially several existing and rapidly developing uses for VR/AR (Augmented Reality) within healthcare such as education for practitioners, medical students and patients and surgeon assistance with visualizing operating areas.