A recent study, published online on September 21 in PLOS ONE, has shown that patients who undergo hand surgery with the assistance of virtual reality (VR) immersion require less anesthesia compared to those who receive standard monitored anesthesia care.
The research, led by Dr. Adeel A. Faruki from the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, aimed to determine whether the use of intraoperative VR could lead to reduced sedative dosing during elective hand surgery, while still maintaining patient satisfaction. The study involved 34 adult participants who were randomly assigned to either the VR group (where they could choose their preferred VR program via a head-mounted display) or the control group receiving usual care.
The findings of the study revealed that the VR group received significantly lower doses of propofol per hour compared to the control group (with mean values of 125.3 mg per hour for VR versus 750.6 mg per hour for the control group). Patient satisfaction remained high in both groups, with no significant differences observed in overall satisfaction scores (rated on a 0 to 100 scale). Additionally, there were no notable variations between the groups in post-anesthesia care unit pain scores, perioperative opioid analgesic doses, or postoperative functional outcomes. Notably, the length of stay in the post-anesthesia care unit was significantly shorter for the VR group (53.0 minutes) compared to the control group (75.0 minutes).
The authors of the study conclude that VR immersion can potentially reduce the need for excessive sedation during hand surgery without compromising patient comfort. They suggest that the application of VR in similar clinical contexts has the potential to minimize sedative-related perioperative complications in vulnerable patients and merits further investigation.