Patients who wore special video glasses during minor medical procedures such as biopsies or catheter placements were two and half times less anxious than patients who did not wear the glasses, according to recent research from the University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, N.Y.

The study's results were presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Interventional Radiology in San Diego.

"Our study — the first of its kind for interventional radiology treatments — puts a spin on using modern technology to provide a safe, potentially cost-effective strategy of reducing anxiety, which can help and improve patient care," David L. Waldman, M.D., lead author of the study, said in a statement accompanying the study's presentation. "Whether they were watching a children's movie or a nature show, patients wearing video glasses were successful at tuning out their surroundings. It's an effective distraction technique that helps focus the individual's attention away from the treatment."

The study involved 49 patients (33 men and 16 women, ages 18-87) who were undergoing an outpatient interventional radiology treatment, such as a biopsy or placement of a catheter in the arm or chest to receive medication for treating cancer or infection. Twenty-five of the patients donned video glasses prior to undergoing the treatment and 24 did not. Patients chose from among 20 videos, none of which were violent. All filled out a standard 20-question test called the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory Form Y before and after the procedure to assess their level of anxiety.

Patients who wore video glasses were 18.1 percent less anxious after the treatment than they were before, while those who didn't wear video glasses were only 7.5 percent less anxious afterward. The presence of the video glasses did not bother either the patient or the doctor, said Waldman. There was no significant effect on blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, pain, procedure time, or amount of sedation or pain medication.

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