VR surgery trial shows patients require less sedation

VR surgery trial shows patients require less sedation
A novel technique which uses VR to reduce the risks of over sedation has shown that the technology can be used to help block pain without the risks of over sedation during hand surgery.

Patients undergoing hand surgery often receive a regional anaesthetic to block pain before a procedure, using monitored anaesthesia care (MAC) during the operation.

The MAC is typically used to keep patients feeling sleepy and calm during procedures but awake enough to follow a surgeon’s instructions when needed.

As too much sedation can lead to serious complications, physician-scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre (BIDMC) conducted a randomised controlled trial to explore whether VR immersion can reduce the need for sedatives without impacting patient satisfaction.

The BIDMC team studied adults undergoing hand surgery who were randomly selected to receive either VR immersion during the procedure in additional to MAC or just MAC alone.

The researchers found that VR immersion during hand surgery led to a significant reduction in sedative doses, as well as post-operative lengths of stay in the post-anaesthesia care unit.

The research was published in the PLOS ONE journal.

Brian P. O’Gara, anaesthesiologist in the department of anaesthesia, BIDMC, commented: “With the increase in the amount of time people spend at the keyboard combined with our aging population, there is a projected increased need for common elective hand surgeries.

“Optimising care for these patients will undoubtedly involve modification to anaesthetic practices. Virtual reality’s purported benefit in the management of patients with pain or anxiety is through providing an immersive experience capable of distracting the mind from processing the unpleasantries associated with undergoing surgery.”

Photo credit: tommaso79/Shutterstock.com

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