Virtual reality reduces the need for sedation during surgery

According to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center researchers in Boston, immersing patients in virtual reality (VR) during surgery may help lower the amount of local anaesthetic required.

Researchers split patients into two groups, showing that the group immersed in VR requested significantly lower sedative levels. While immersed in VR, patients were shown calming environments such as peaceful meadows, mountaintops, or forests. However, the team admits it might be a placebo effect, as the group might have believed the VR would be helpful. They concluded that further research is needed.

Researchers also think reducing the quantity of anaesthesia a patient receives has additional advantages since it can contribute to shorter hospital stays and reduce complications. It could also result in cost savings on the medications.

Brenda Wiederhold, cofounder of the Virtual Reality Medical Center, who was not involved in the study, concluded that considerable evidence is already available that VR can be a helpful surgical aid. However, since motion sickness is one of the side effects of VR, medical professionals would need to monitor patients while in recovery.