Virtual reality distraction for patients to relieve pain and discomfort during colonoscopy

Govert Veldhuijzen* (Corresponding Author), Nienke Klaassen, Richard Jack Anton van Wezel, Joost Drenth, Aura Esch van

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic

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Background and study aims  Colonoscopy is an invasive procedure that may cause patients pain and discomfort. Routine use of sedation, while effective, is expensive and requires logistical planning. Virtual reality (VR) offers immersive, three-dimensional experiences that distract the attention and might comfort patients. We performed a pilot study to investigate the feasibility of VR distraction during colonoscopy.

Patients and methods  Adults referred for colonoscopy were considered for inclusion and divided over two groups: with and without VR glasses. The main outcome was patient acceptance of wearing VR glasses during colonoscopy without compromising the technical success of the procedure. Secondary outcomes were patient comfort, pain, and anxiety before, during and after the procedure, using validated patient questionnaires. Patient comments were collected through a qualitative interview.

Results  We included 19 patients, 10 of whom were offered VR glasses. All patients accepted VR glasses without prolonging procedural time. No disadvantages of the VR glasses were reported in terms of communication or change of position of the patient. We found that patient comfort, pain, anxiety, and satisfaction in relation to the procedure were similar in both groups. Patients described a pleasant distracting effect using VR glasses.

Conclusion  VR glasses during colonoscopy are accepted by patients and do not compromise endoscopic technical success. Patients reported that the VR experience was pleasant and distracting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E959–E966
JournalEndoscopy international open
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2020


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