The emerging role of virtual reality as an adjunct to procedural sedation and anesthesia: a narrative review

Rita Hitching, Hunter G. Hoffman*, Azucena Garcia-Palacios, Maheen M. Adamson, Esmeralda Madrigal, Wadee Alhalabi, Ahad Alhudali, Mariana Sampaio, Barry Peterson, Miles R. Fontenot, Keira P. Mason*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Over the past 20 years, there has been a significant reduction in the incidence of adverse events associated with sedation outside of the operating room. Non-pharmacologic techniques are increasingly being used as peri-operative adjuncts to facilitate and promote anxiolysis, analgesia and sedation, and to reduce adverse events. This narrative review will briefly explore the emerging role of immersive reality in the peri-procedural care of surgical patients. Immersive virtual reality (VR) is intended to distract patients with the illusion of “being present” inside the computer-generated world, drawing attention away from their anxiety, pain, and discomfort. VR has been described for a variety of procedures that include colonoscopies, venipuncture, dental procedures, and burn wound care. As VR technology develops and the production costs decrease, the role and application of VR in clinical practice will expand. It is important for medical professionals to understand that VR is now available for prime-time use and to be aware of the growing body in the literature that supports VR.

Original languageEnglish
Article number843
Number of pages15
Journal Journal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2023


  • Analgesia
  • Anesthesia
  • Non-pharmacologic
  • Sedation
  • Virtual reality


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