Oral 3 – Virtual Reality Improves Symptoms of Functional Dyspepsia: Results of a Randomized, Controlled, Double-Blind Pilot Study
Monday, October 24, 2022 | 8:24 AM – 8:36 AM ET | Location: Hall C2
Author Insight from David Cangemi, MD, Mayo Clinic
What’s new here and important for clinicians?
Functional dyspepsia (FD) is a common disorder of gut brain interaction (DGBI) which affects approximately 10% of the population. Despite its prevalence, there are no FDA-approved treatments for FD. Commonly used medications, such as neuromodulators, are frequently used off-label, and may cause adverse effects. Therefore, there is a great need for novel effective – and safe – treatment options for FD.
Our study is the first randomized, controlled trial to assess virtual reality (VR) for the treatment of FD. Virtual reality has been shown to effectively treat pain in various clinical settings but has never been studied for the treatment of FD. Our pilot study showed that VR resulted in significant improvement in symptoms and quality life when used for 2 weeks in patients with FD. Notably, patients in the control group (who were given a VR headset loaded with 2-dimensional nature videos) also improved, but the improvement in symptoms and quality of life was numerically greater in the experimental group (who were given a VR headset loaded with different passive, guided, or active 3-D immersive programs). Though 17 of the 38 patients reported adverse effects during the study, these were largely non-serious (i.e. minor headache, dizziness) and did not lead to study withdrawal.
Taken together, our pilot study identifies VR as an intriguing novel effective and safe treatment option for FD and suggests that VR has a positive effect on the brain-gut axis, perhaps by modulating visceral and central signaling related to pain and nausea. As with any pilot study, larger studies are needed to better assess the potential role for VR in the treatment of FD, though we see our study as an exciting step in this direction.
What do patients need to know?
Functional dyspepsia (FD) is a common disorder of gut brain interaction, characterized by symptoms of abdominal pain/discomfort, fullness, nausea, and/or bloating, which affects approximately 10% of the population. There are no currently FDA-approved treatments for FD, and many commonly used medication treatments have side effects. In our study, we demonstrated that patients with FD who used virtual reality (VR), delivered via headset device, daily for 2 weeks experienced significant improvement in symptoms and quality of life. There is growing interest in utilizing VR in the medical field, and VR has already been shown to improve pain in different studies. More research is needed, but our study suggests that VR may be an effective and safe new treatment for FD.
Read the Abstract
David Cangemi, MD, Mayo Clinic
cangemi.david [at] mayo.edu
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