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  • Writer's pictureDr Kevin Rafferty FRCA

Why do we feel sick with operations?

Feeling sick with operations is unfortunately very common. There are many pathways in our brain and body for us to feel sick. Feeling sick is one of our body's responses to protect itself from actual or perceived danger.(1,2)

Feeling sick is very unpleasant and vomiting can be dangerous especially after an operation. Being in pain and feeling sick will lead to the patient having to remain in hospital until they are feeling better. It may stress wounds and cause further pain. Less common but more serious complications are damage to your wound, lungs and food pipe.(3,4)

There are a lot of reasons why a patient may be more likely to feel sick around the time of an operation. These may be due to the patient, the surgery and the anaesthetic. Before any operation please speak to your anaesthetic doctor who will go through ways of reducing the chances of feeling very sick after the operation. (2,3)

How can The Rafferty Distraction Headset potentially help to reduce feeling sick both before and after an operation?

It is hoped that The Rafferty Distraction Headset will allow virtual reality tours and patient simulation of the day of surgery. With the aim of reducing anxiety and to increase patient satisfaction. Reducing anxiety can reduce the feeling of nausea prior to an operation. (2,5)

It is believed that virtual reality immersion/ distraction provided headsets like The Rafferty Distraction Headset during regional anaesthesia may augment the regional block. If more regional anaesthesia can be used less patients will feel sick after operations. This is because general anaesthesia and opiod pain killers are two risk factors in feeling sick after an operation.(2)

If you wish to learn more about why we vomit and how the body works this is a great video and youtube channel by Armando Hasudungan.

Dr Kevin Rafferty MBChB FRCA

Anaesthetic Doctor and Inventor of The Rafferty Distraction Headset

Declarations of Interest

  • If you are interested in this product please contact Henley Medical who will be the distributors of this product.

References and further information

1. Singh P, Yoon SS, Kuo B. Nausea: a review of pathophysiology and therapeutics.Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2016;9(1):98–112. doi:10.1177/1756283X15618131

2. Matthews C. A review of nausea and vomiting in the anaesthetic and post anaesthetic environment.J Perioper Pract. 2017;27(10):224–227. doi:10.1177/175045891702701004

3. RCOA patient guideline

4. BBC article about vomiting

5. Ryu JH, Oh AY, Yoo HJ, Kim JH, Park JW, Han SH. The effect of an immersive virtual reality tour of the operating theater on emergence delirium in children undergoing general anesthesia: A randomized controlled trial.Paediatr Anaesth. 2019;29(1):98–105. doi:10.1111/pan.13535

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