Study: Patients immersed in virtual reality during surgery require less anesthesia

A recent study published in PLOS One and conducted by researchers at the Beth Israel Deacon Medical Center in Boston virtual reality Use in manual surgery resulted in a significant reduction in the amount of intraoperative anesthetic without negatively affecting patient-reported outcomes.

In a small, 8-month randomized controlled trial, researchers evaluated 34 patients who received hand surgery and the amount of anesthesia used during surgery with or without the use of VR.

The VR group received significantly less propofol per hour than the control group. Notably, the length of stay in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) was markedly reduced in the VR group, with patients discharged 22 minutes earlier than the control patients.

The patients were divided into a control group, which was anesthetized as recommended by the anesthesiologist during surgery, and a VR group, which watched the program of their choice via virtual reality headsets and noise-cancelling headsets.

Virtual program provided by telehealth clinic company VR XRHealth, designed to promote relaxation and tranquility, such as peaceful meadows, forests or mountain peaks. Patients can also listen to guided meditation in an immersive environment or choose from a library of videos on a web-based user interface displayed as a theater screen surrounded by a “starry sky” background.


A common practice for anesthesia during hand surgery combines regional anesthesia performed prior to surgery and monitoring of anesthesia care during surgery.

Although patients are anesthetized prior to surgery, they may require additional anesthesia during surgery, which can lead to overload and avoidable complications.

The researchers in the study noted, “VR could prove to be a valuable tool for patients and service providers by distracting the mind from processing noxious stimuli , resulting in reduced sedation use and reduced risk of overload without negatively impacting patient satisfaction.”

However, they reported limitations in the study, including that participants were aware of the possibility of reducing the dose of the sedative. There may also be selection bias, as results from patients who agree with minimal sedation may not be generalizable to the entire population.

In addition, the providers in the study were not blinded, which may contribute to the significant difference in Propofol dosage between the groups, the researchers wrote.

“Given the potential for bias to affect both of these results, our results should be interpreted as preliminary and should be confirmed in future trials. Furthermore, given these major limitations, the results Our results are therefore best suited to describe how to incorporate VR immersion The researchers note that current anesthetic practice for hand surgery is comparable to standard of care, not to evidence. demonstrated that VR is an effective or superior pain management modality compared to other distraction techniques.


Augmented reality (i.e. virtual, augmented and mixed reality) is currently used in many different forms in the operating room and affecting the patient and operated doctor.

Surgeons use augmented reality technology through Augmedics’ xvision system, for spine surgery. Augmedics technology allows surgeons to view a 3D model of a patient’s spine during implant surgery and has demonstrated a 99.1% percutaneous screw placement accuracy.

Precision XR’s Surgical theater allows surgeons to visualize the surgical experience by importing 3D visual models into virtual reality. Providers perform routine scans of the patient’s body (MRI, CT, etc.). That scan is reconstructed into a 3D image in virtual reality for the surgeon to do in-depth analysis in preparation for surgery.

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