Virtual Cartoon Technology Can Ease Pediatric Anxiety in OR Before Anesthesia Interview with:
Dr. Sunghee Han
Seoul National Unversity College of Medicine
Seoul National University Hospital
Department of Anesthesia and Pain Medicin

What is the background for this new technology and study? What are the main findings?

Response: The time from patient arrival in the operating theatre to induction of general anesthesia is one of the most stressful moments for children undergoing surgery. Various strategies such as ‘pre-operative guided operating room tour’ or ‘therapeutic play intervention’ have been developed in order to reduce children’s pre-operative anxiety. Although these existing simulation-based approaches may be effective, they have not been widely used in real clinical settings with limited budget and resources such as manpower and space.

Virtual Reality(VR), a relatively new technology in the field of healthcare, can allow the user to experience an immersive environment. In this study, using VR technology, we provided the children with a realistic trip to the operating theatre accompanied by ‘My best friend’ Pororo. “Pororo, The Little Penguin” is a very famous cartoon character in Korea and Asia. Most children in Korea watch Pororo in TV, play with Pororo toys since early yeas and perceive Pororo as a ‘close friend’. In the VR content used in this study, Pororo acts as a patient and is subjected to anesthesia and surgery himself. Pororo kindly brings his friend(the viewer; paediatric patient) to the theatre and shows all that is going on in there.

Intervention with the VR content was able to reduce the level of anxiety in paediatric patients and promote collaborative behavior and acceptance of the invasive procedures, especially general anesthesia. Parental satisfaction level was also relatively higher in the VR group.

What should readers take away from your report?

Response: With the help of cutting edge Information and Communications Technology including VR(virtual reality) or AR(augmented reality), physicians can improve patient care with less cost, time, space and human labour. I think we can expect a quantum leap in health technology in the near future.

What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response:  I believe this kind of approach can be pursued not only for surgery, but also for other stressful and/or invasive medical procedures. It can be applied not only to children but to adults as well. Thus, further studies and research are expected involving other procedures and age groups.

Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures?

Response:  ICONIX Co, Ltd., a Korean firm who held all rights about “Pororo, The Little Penguin”, generously offered the character “Pororo, the Little Penguin” without cost for the creation of the VR content. “The VR”, “ICONIX Co.Ltd.” and “Seoul National University Bundang Hostpital” are the co-owners of the intellectual property rights relating to the VR content used in this study.


J.-H. Ryu, S.-J. Park, J.-W. Park, J.-W. Kim, H.-J. Yoo, T.-W. Kim, J. S. Hong, S.-H. Han. Randomized clinical trial of immersive virtual reality tour of the operating theatre in children before anaesthesia. British Journal of Surgery, 2017; DOI: 10.1002/bjs.10684

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

Last Updated on October 18, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD