The use of virtual reality in the physician-patient-relationship

Surgery planning, education or even communication: Virtual and augmented reality give room to many applications in patient-physician interactions.

What is the difference between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality?

Initially used in the entertainment industry, VR and AR are now stepping into the world of medicine. In cardiovascular care, this is mainly for imaging: 3D printing, computational modeling, artificial intelligence and so on.

The use of VR in cardiology

For physicians VR and AR are already common tools. Most recently also cardiologists search for ways to implement VR and AR in their practice mainly for educational purposes. Its use in patients however is less spontaneous. Prof. Dr. Dr. med. Christian Jung (Düsseldorf, Germany) gave recent examples of possible indications for the use of virtual reality in ICU-patients:

Those indications could also be adapted to cardiology, according to Prof. Jung. However, literature about the use of VR and AR during cardiovascular interventions is limited. Therefore,“the level of evidence during intervention is low”. Nevertheless, Jung pointed out how helpful the use of Virtual Reality could be in preparing patients for any intervention. A randomized pilot study about the use of Virtual Reality-assisted conscious sedation during transcatheter aortic valve implantation showed that patients want to be informed about what the physicians are doing during the operation. The participants, although mainly elderlypatients, had no problem with the use of VR and showed less stress:

"It (VR) helped to explain and to lower the level of anxiety not the day before the intervention but during the intervention".

Professor Christian Jung

Is there a future for VR in cardiology?

VR in cardiology is an emerging technology which can support patient education as well as treatment. The few existing results are promising and show that the use of VR is a good way to establish successful surgery and teamwork between physicians and their patients. The increasing number of presentations of VR topics at larger medical conferences like the ESC 2022 shows that virtual reality might become even more important for clinical practice in the future.


Face-to-face or virtual interaction with the patient: where does technology add value?
ESC Congress 2022 - 26 August 2022 - 16:30 - 17:30 - Presentation “State of the art: virtual reality to support patient during interventions” Professor Christian Jung