Register for citation alerts
"The aim of our study was to evaluate the VR as an alternative to pharmacological sedation to reduce those risks and the overall cost" Gianuario et al (2022).

Virtual reality during PICC placement


Introduction: In pediatric patients, PICC insertion is often performed under sedation to reduce pain and anxiety, which is associated with risks such as laryngospasm, apnea, and hypoxia. Furthermore, it requires a pediatric anesthesiologist. The aim of our study was to evaluate the VR as an alternative to pharmacological sedation to reduce those risks and the overall cost.

Methods: We tested a VR immersive experience for ten children requiring a PICC. To achieve this, we ran a software, specifically designed for the pediatric healthcare setting, on a commercially available VR headset.In order to evaluate this new practice, we recorded the following data:Patient’s anxiety before and after the procedure, recorded through a modified numeric rating scale from 0 (no anxiety) to 10 (worst anxiety imaginable).Patient’s pain before (e.g., because of preexisting medical conditions) and after the procedure through a Wong-Baker scale.Caregiver’s satisfaction.No active or passive restraint was enforced during the whole procedure, patients had to keep their arms still all by themselves.

Result: Out of the 10 patients only in a single case, we had to interrupt the attempt with the VR technique and let the anesthesiologist perform a sedation. From the immediate beginning said patient had trouble adapting to the virtual environment and tried to remove the headset.In all other cases, we noticed a drop in the anxiety level of the patient and the pain never increased. Globally, caregivers were pleased with the experience and reported an average satisfaction rate of 9.3 out of 10.

Conclusion: Virtual reality seems a valid alternative to traditional sedation in pediatric patients undergoing a PICC placement procedure. Additional studies, with adequate sample size, of patients are necessary to assess the benefit from this new approach, as well as its impact on the overall procedure length.


Gianuario S, Anna C, Veronica D, Giacomo A, Adriano T, Marco G. Virtual sedation as a substitute to pharmacological sedation during PICC placement in pediatric patients: A feasibility study. J Vasc Access. 2022 Jun 30:11297298221085424. doi: 10.1177/11297298221085424. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35773952.