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Barcelona hospital tests virtual reality to reduce pre-operation anxiety

The technology prepares patients by showing them what to expect on day of intervention



09 January 2018 01:59 PM


Guifré Jordan | Barcelona

The Hospital Clinic in Barcelona has successfully tested the use of virtual reality in order to reduce anxiety in patients awaiting to undergo an operation.

After carrying out trials on ten patients, the hospital, one of the best in the country, will set up a study in February in order to verify the effect of the use of virtual reality on patients. The technology allows patients to experience the environment expected on the day of the operation as many times as is needed until their fear and anxiety subsides.

Fear of the unknown

Patients will be able to see everything that will take place on the day of gastrointestinal surgery, from the moment they are anaesthetized, which often produces the greatest fears, to the recovery room after the operation has been carried out. This way, as the Head of Gastrointestinal Surgery, Antonio de Lacy, explained, “fear of the unknown” disappears thus allowing better surgical results with less complications.

One of the creators of the initiative, Rodrigo Menchaca of the company IS Channel, highlighted that the programme is free. Indeed, he said that it can be used as many times as wished in the comfort of one’s own home as all that is needed is a mobile phone and virtual reality glasses.

Use of the application will also be monitored, allowing doctors to learn which phases of the day of surgery produce more anxiety in patients.

A satisfactory response

6 men and 4 women aged between 23 and 76 took part in the trial. Out of them, 6 had been operated on in the past, while two were due to be operated on in the next 12 months. De Lacy acknowledged that out 9 out of the 10 people tested on had given a satisfactory response.

Depending on the results obtained, the hospital will extend the project to other fields such as dialysis and scanners.


  • Presentation of virtual reality technology for patients awaiting operation (by ACN)

  • Presentation of virtual reality technology for patients awaiting operation (by ACN)