Virtual reality glasses make for calmer patients in the Radiology Department.

Every week, the care providers in the Radiology Department see at least one patient who is very anxious about getting a scan or injection. The surroundings are also intimidating for children. Since it isn't always easy to calm these patients, the department decided to start using virtual reality glasses.

The patient chooses from various settings: ocean, space, sunrise ... While the images are projected on to a screen, a soothing voice guides the patient through some breathing techniques. The application is available in several languages.

Where are the glasses (currently) being used?

  • NMR scan(Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging): certain signals in the body are stimulated using a very strong magnet and radio waves. These signals are received by an antenna. The patient must be placed on a table that moves into a cylinder (the cylindrical magnet). Not only does the machine make a lot of noise, some patients find that, once inside the cylinder, they get a sense of claustrophobia. They put on the virtual reality glasses 15 minutes before the scan in order to calm themselves and to get used to the noise that the machine makes. Due to the magnetic field, they cannot have the glasses on during the scan itself. Investigations are currently under way to find innovative solutions to enable people to wear the glasses during the scan.
  • Patient injections: the virtual reality glasses are also used for patients who become anxious before an injection (e.g. infusion, injection or puncturing a tumour or abscess).

Positive results

Dr Schoofs (Radiologist): ‘The effect that virtual reality glasses have is impressive. Anxious patients feel calmer and better during the procedure. This means that they move less, which results in higher-quality images for a radiological test and a smoother procedure.’

What’s round the corner?

Currently, initial tests are being performed in other hospital departments, such as the departments of Geriatrics and Paediatrics and the Pain Clinic. Additional uses (e.g. in the operating facilities, for blood draws or in the laboratory) are also being considered.