Researchers study the use of virtual reality to reduce pain and anxiety during vasectomy

Researchers study the use of virtual reality to reduce pain and anxiety during vasectomy

Newswise – Researchers at the Desai Sethi Urology Institute, part of the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, have launched a study to determine if wearing virtual reality headsets during in-office vasectomy helps patients feel relief procedural pain and anxiety.

The Miller School researchers partnered for the study with the company Smileyscope, which has developed virtual reality hardware to meet or exceed healthcare standards. The company’s experts created the technology in this trial specifically as a virtual reality treatment for pain relief during office procedures performed under local anesthesia.

“Studies suggest that virtual reality can safely reduce pain in children undergoing intravenous procedures. We think virtual reality could also play a role in distracting and comforting adult patients. Our hypothesis is that the technology could decrease the pain and anxiety that adult men associate with vasectomy and potentially many other in-office procedures,” said study researcher Ranjith Ramasamy, MD, associate professor and director. from the Miller School’s reproductive urology program.

“We are also comparing virtual reality to augmented reality to determine if a static scene, in this case a beach with music, helps less or less to decrease pain and anxiety than an interactive magic show.”

One of the biggest concerns for men considering a vasectomy is pain or pain-related anxiety, said Akhil Muthigi, MD, study researcher and reproductive urology researcher working with Dr. Ramasamy.

“A lot of patients want the vasectomy, but in the end the anxiety or the fear is too high, and they don’t go through with it,” Dr. Muthigi said. “We’ll see if this technology helps make the actual in-clinic experience less painful, which would be a win not only for patients but also for urologists performing these common procedures.”

Study the effects of helmets

Over the next six months, researchers will recruit 150 to 180 men undergoing in-office vasectomy at the Desai Sethi Institute of Urology. The men will be randomly divided into three groups: one group will wear virtual reality headsets with a static beach scene and music during the procedure; another group will wear

headsets with a magic show that they can interact with through eye movements; and the third group will undergo the traditional procedure without additional technology.

Researchers use patient surveys to measure pain and anxiety scores before, during and after the procedure, according to study investigator Farhan Qureshi, MD/Ph.D. student at Miller School.

“Another thing that’s new in this study is that we’re using Fitbit wearables to measure physiological measures of pain, including heart rate, skin temperature, and oxygenation levels before, during, and after pain. procedure,” Qureshi said.

The study is timely, according to Dr. Ramasamy.

“The demand for vasectomy procedures in the United States is on the rise, especially with the overturning of Roe v. Wade,” Dr. Ramasamy said. “I was one of the authors of a study recently published in the journal priest in which we found that internet searches for vasectomy jumped more than 120% following the leak of the Supreme Court’s draft of Roe v. Wade. »

For the study, Miller School researchers partnered with Smileyscope, an Australia-based company that developed the innovative, evidence-based virtual reality technology for use in healthcare.

“During vasectomy, pain is generated at the site of the procedure, and the conventional approach is to control pain at this site. Importantly, we know that pain is perceived in the brain. We are testing whether the virtual reality of Smileyscope can reduce pain by altering pain perception in the brain,” said Smileyscope Chief Medical Officer Paul Leong, MBBS, Ph.D. “The use of tailored virtual reality during vasectomy has not not been [studied in a clinical trial] before, and we are delighted to work with Dr. Ramasamy and his colleagues.

The use of virtual reality could translate into many types of in-office procedures, according to Dr. Muthigi.

“Vasectomy is one of the most common procedures we perform in our clinic. But there are dozens of in-office procedures in the world of urology that could benefit from the use of virtual reality; for example, prostate biopsies used to diagnose prostate cancer and cystoscopy to diagnose bladder cancer,” Dr. Muthigi said. “If the technology materializes in studies, clinicians could use virtual reality to distract and calm patients having all types of in-office procedures in the future.”

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