Motion pictures have always provided an escape from reality, but now a researcher has found movies are effective as a pain reliever as well.
Akash Bajaj, M.D., associate professor at Harbor-University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center, today will present the results of a study he conducted on surgery patients given regular anesthesia and those who were fitted with a pair of goggles on which they could watch a movie of their choice on DVD.
Although both groups were comfortable during surgery, the "movie goers" used less medication than the regular patients did, according to Bajaj.
"Every single patient that utilized the device was quite satisfied with it, and all explained that it was a positive experience," said Bajaj, who is presenting the study results at the American Society of Anesthesiologists' annual meeting this week in Las Vegas.
Ten patients each were selected for the control and movie groups. The patients all had surgeries lasting from 45 minutes to more than two hours under regional anesthesia, "which included central neuraxial conduction blocks (lumbar spinals and epidurals), axillary approach to the brachial plexus, and intravenous regional anesthesia (Bier block)," according to Bajaj.
The movie-viewing device was made by Microptics Corp., Boston. During the procedures, patients had their vital signs monitored and recorded at 15 minute intervals and their medications were adjusted accordingly. Afterward, they completed surveys on overall satisfaction, comfort and willingness to participate again. Bajaj said several of the patients watching films had no elevation in heart rate and required no anesthesia at all.
Bajaj said patients were reminded the night before surgery to either bring in their favorite DVD or pick from his own film library, which was purposefully stocked with love stories, movies with people overcoming obstacles, films with happy endings and animated features.
"Most patients preferred the animation films," Bajaj said. "That's good news because the next phase (is a trial) with a pediatric population."
Bajaj said he was led to try hooking patients up to a movie viewing device after a friend underwent an arthroscopic procedure under a regional anesthetic and described to him how the anxiety over the surgery was heightened by seeing and hearing the goings on in the operating room. Bajaj said he was not surprised, though, that his patients were swept into painlessness by a movie
"Most of us do tend to get lost," he said.
Also at the meeting, Robert Stoelting, M.D., of Indianapolis was given the ASA Distinguished Service Award for "lifetime achievements and service in the specialty and (to) the society."
In 2003, Stoelting retired as chairman of the department of anesthesia at Indiana University School of Medicine to serve full-time as president of Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation.
A 1964 graduate of the IU med school, Stoelting has been on the faculty since 1970 and became a professor and department chairman in 1977. He served as editor-in-chief of Advances in Anesthesia<?i> from 1982 to 1992.