Send to

Choose Destination
Pain Med. 2011 Apr;12(4):673-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4637.2011.01091.x. Epub 2011 Apr 11.

Combining ketamine and virtual reality pain control during severe burn wound care: one military and one civilian patient.

Author information

U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, TX, USA.



US soldiers injured in Iraq, and civilian burn trauma patients are treated at the US Army Institute of Surgical Research. Burn patients experience extreme pain during wound care, and they typically receive opioid analgesics and anxiolytics for debridement. Virtual Reality (VR) has been applied as an adjunct to opioid analgesics for procedural pain. We describe the first use of ketamine combined with immersive VR to reduce excessive pain during wound care.


A 21-year-old male US Army soldier stationed in Iraq, and a 41-year-old civilian male sustained a 13% and 50% total body surface area (TBSA) burn, respectively. Each patient received 40 mg ketamine intraveneous (IV) for wound care. Using a within-subject design, nurses conducted half of a painful segment of wound care treatments with no VR and the other half with immersive VR. Graphic pain rating scores for each of the two treatment conditions served as the dependent variables.


Compared to ketamine + no VR, both patients reported less pain during ketamine + VR for all three pain ratings. Both patients rated wound care during no VR as "no fun at all", but those same patients rated wound care during virtual reality as either "pretty fun" or "extremely fun", and rated nausea as either "mild" or "none".


Results from these first two cases suggest that a moderate dose of ketamine combined with immersive virtual reality distraction may be an effective multimodal analgesic regimen for reducing acute procedural pain during severe burn wound cleaning.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center