The VR group requested significantly lower levels of the sedative propofol, in this case used to numb pain in the hand, than the non-VR group. They received 125.3 milligrams per hour, compared to an average of 750.6 milligrams per hour during the study, described in plus one. The VR group also left the postanesthetic recovery unit more quickly, spending an average of 63 minutes versus 75 minutes for the non-VR group.
The researchers believe that those in the VR group needed lower levels of anesthesia because they were more distracted than those without virtual visual stimuli. However, the team acknowledges that the VR group may have had surgery in the belief that VR would be effective. This possibility should be explored in future trials.
Reducing the amount of anesthetic a patient receives can help shorten hospital stays and reduce the risk of complications, and could save money on medication costs.
The team now plans to conduct a similar subsequent trial in patients undergoing hip and knee surgery to continue exploring whether virtual reality could help manage anxiety during operations, says Adeel Faruki, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at the University of Colorado. , who led the study.
There is a growing body of evidence that virtual reality can be a useful surgical aid, says Brenda Wiederd, co-founder of the Virtual Reality Medical Center, who was not involved in the study. However, medical experts would need to monitor patients for cybersickness, a form of motion sickness that virtual reality triggers in some people.
“We have so many use cases for VR and surgeries, like C-sections and pre- and post-cardiac surgeries,” he says.
Virtual reality can be useful not only during medical procedures but also afterwards, according to Repeated, by reducing the risk of chronic pain. “That’s very exciting,” she says.