for people ages 18 years and up (full criteria)
Healthy Volunteers
healthy people welcome
at UC Irvine
study started
completion around
Principal Investigator
by Navid Alem, MD (uci)



The study team aims to investigate whether implementing virtual reality therapy (VRT) during Genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation (GNRFA) procedure will provide better alleviation of procedural pain and augmented satisfaction for patients.

Official Title

The Effect of Virtual Reality on Pain and Patient Satisfaction in Adults Receiving Genicular Nerve Radiofrequency Ablation


Patients' experience through a medical procedure in a hospital environment is inherently stressful and painful. Although virtual reality (VR) was originally recognized for its entertainment value, it has recently been used as an innovative tool in clinical settings to reduce pain and anxiety, while improving patient satisfaction. VR is a computer generated simulation of a life-like experience that usually serves people for entertainment and social interactive purposes in a simulated three-dimensional environment. Virtual reality therapy (VRT) offers patients an opportunity to "get away" from noxious stimuli as they draw their attention towards another virtual world (Alem).

Virtual reality provides a cognitive distraction through creating a "real world illusion." VR may deter an individual's attention from pain as it offers a multimodal sensory distractor. This positive experience may result in reduction of pain score by decreasing the time patients think about their pain during a procedure.

Genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation (GNRFA) is an option to treat knee pain without surgery. The genicular nerves are the nerves that feed into the knee. Radiofrequency ablation is a process by applying radiofrequency waves to the nerves that are carrying the painful impulses from the knee joint. GNRFA uses fluoroscopy guidance to introduce 3 needles at each of the three genicular nerves which transmit sensation from the knee joint. This is followed by testing for sensory response, followed by administration of local anesthetic (2% lidocaine) per standard-of-care, and then radiofrequency ablation. This method of treatment is known to be very safe, convenient and reliable because fluoroscopy guidance provides high accuracy of localization at the procedure targets outside of the knee joint. Patients with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis have shown short and long term positive results following this method with significant reduction of pain levels (Kidd) and augmented functionality. This non-invasive procedure is able to successfully replace surgery or intra-articular therapy where the procedure is conducted directly on the knee joint.


Pain, Patient Satisfaction, Genicular Nerve Block, Virtual Reality, Genicular Nerve Radiofrequency Ablation, GNRFA, Soothe VR


You can join if…

Open to people ages 18 years and up

  • Patients aged 18 or older
  • Patients Undergoing a genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation
  • Patients who have previously received nerve blocks or radiofrequency ablation procedures may be included

You CAN'T join if...

  • Requiring sedation during procedure
  • Cognitive impairment or dementia
  • History of recent stroke, epilepsy, psychosis, or claustrophobia
  • Blindness or deafness
  • Refusal to use the headset
  • Isolation status for infection control
  • Motion sickness or active nausea/vomit
  • Pregnancy (Pregnancy testing point of care available for females of child bearing age)


  • UC Irvine Gottschalk Medical Plaza accepting new patients
    Irvine California 92617 United States

Lead Scientist at University of California Health

  • Navid Alem, MD (uci)
    Health Sciences Professor, Anesthesiology and Perioperative Care, School of Medicine. Authored (or co-authored) 6 research publications


accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, Irvine
Applied VR Research Studies
Study Type
Expecting 67 study participants
Last Updated