Taking the stress out of surgery
Austin Mills is being prepped for surgery after he was knocked off his bike by a car a few weeks ago. He's wearing a virtual reality headset to distract him as he's injected with a localised anaesthetic, which means he'll be awake throughout his operation.
Dr Susan Hutchinson, Consultant anaesthetist
Many patients don't want to hear anything or see anything in theatre. And even if I tell them that there's going to be no pain, they're very worried about being awake in the theatre environment. So in the past, we would use sedation to make them sleepy or drowsy and with the VR we don't need to do that because effectively with sound and sight gone – and they're in their own little world, they can have nothing at all.
The only thing Austin will see and hear while on the operating table is the exotic location of his choice.
Voice of Austin Mills, patient
My shoulder moves occasionally to sort of bring me back to reality – but I've had no feeling, or whatever, of the actual surgery itself. It's just, I feel like I'm just sitting by a mountain lake and every now and again somebody tugs on my arm.
Orthopaedic surgeon Shamim Umarji is leading this trial in the use of VR headsets.
Shamim Umarji, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon
If you wheel a patient through to this environment, it's pretty stressful. And they're fully awake. They can hear the drills and the conversations that are happening around them, and it's a stressfulenvironment. Virtual reality is undoubtedly quite an immersive phenomenon.
Austin Mills, patient
I was really excited when Doctor Umarji approached me and asked me to be part of it, and yeah, it's been a huge success so I'm really, really happy with it. Apart from my arm that I can't feel, I feel completely normal.
Currently, this technology is being used for patients undergoing hand or arm surgery, but it's hoped it could be extended to other types of operations.