A randomised controlled trial to assess the feasibility of utilising virtual reality to facilitate analgesia during external cephalic version

Vinayak Smith, Ritesh Rikain Warty, Ravi Kashyap, Peter Neil, Carol Adriaans, Amrish Nair, Sathya Krishnan, Fabricio Da Silva Costa, Beverley Vollenhoven, Euan M. Wallace

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6 Citations (Scopus)


External cephalic version (ECV) is associated with a moderate degree of pain. Virtual reality (VR) is a technology that has shown promise in offering procedural analgesia. We undertook a clinical pilot to assess the viability of VR to reduce pain during ECV. In an open randomised controlled trial (RCT), we randomised 50 women to either VR or standard care each (25 per group). Women receiving VR were administered VR content (Skylights) via a headset. Pre- and post-procedural measures of pain, anxiety, device experience and vital signs were measured. There were no significant differences between groups (VR/no VR) in pain scores (60.68 vs 49.76; p = 0.2), ECV success rates (80% vs 76%; p = 0.7) or anxiety levels. The women receiving VR had a significantly higher anticipation of pain pre-procedurally (70.0 vs 50.0; p = 0.03). 20 (80%) of the VR women indicated that they would use VR again and 22 (88%) indicated they would recommend it to a friend having ECV. There were no significant differences between groups for side effects encountered or changes in vital signs. We have shown that using VR during ECV is feasible and appears safe. Our results inform the design of future RCTs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3141
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2020

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