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Virtual Reality Vasectomy

Updated: Jan 3, 2020

Virtual Reality Vasectomy

Each year more than 500,000 men in the US decide to sign up for a vasectomy as their choice for permanent birth control. A vasectomy is a procedure where the surgeon disconnects the path that sperm usually travels to reach the semen which is ejaculated during orgasm. The rate of success is rather high with only 1-2 women out of a 1,000 getting pregnant in the first year after their partners have had a vasectomy.

The procedure is considered a minor surgery that takes between 20-30 minutes. However, given the fact that the patient is exposed for that duration of time and in a rather uncomfortable situation, methods to distract are welcome.

In that spirit I decided to offer my patients the chance to watch a movie or play a game using VR goggles. This also aids in pain control during the procedure. Distraction as a method to control the perception and reaction to pain has been studied before and shown great promise. Virtual Reality is arguably one of the most distracting methods.

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Deer Hunter & Netflix

The game that I offer the patients is Deer Hunter - after all this is West Virginia. This game relies on very slow motions and concentration both of which are important with our goal of pain control and remaining still during the procedure. Alternatively, watching a movie or show on a program such as Netflix or Hulu is equally as effective.

An important issue that needs to be taken into account is that the material that is selected for the patient should not cause them to make any rapid movements while the surgeon is attempting to isolate and cut a small structure. Equally, choosing a scary movie or a movie that evokes constant laughter may be counterproductive as well.

VR has alot of potential in the medical field. Whether to distract patients from painful procedures and keeping their narcotic requirements to a minimum to relieving some of the fear and anxiety from undergoing treatment, VR has a lot of untapped potential. I am sure that in the very near future, I will be using VR headsets to perform complex surgical procedures with the robot.

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