Ian McDonough, 74, immersed himself in Freddy Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody when recently undergoing a total knee replacement.
He said: “It was an absolutely fantastic experience – as an artist myself, I find it fascinating how the two worlds of art and health can come together and offer such a progressive solution.
"I actually had a full knee replacement in my other leg five years ago, and I was familiar with the surgeon so I guess that helped a bit.
"But comparing the recovery process, the ‘none sedative’ approach was far more pleasant and far quicker to recover from.
"I chose to watch Bohemian Rhapsody and it really did take my mind off everything around me – of course I was aware of some tugging and pulling, which is slightly strange.
"I would certainly recommend it as an alternative and in fact I already have done so on several occasions, including to a medical friend!”
The novel solution was introduced by clinicians at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
Patients can choose to wear a virtual reality headset in combination with a nerve block while undergoing surgery on their arms or legs, such as a knee replacement operation. This has reduced the number of people needing to have a general anaesthetic or heavy sedation during surgery.
Dr Caveh Madjdpour, consultant anaesthetist at the trust explains: “The use of virtual reality is becoming more common in healthcare because of its ability to help people relax.
"With surgery under nerve block, a general anaesthetic or sedation doesn’t have to be given, and this avoids the extra risk of things like nausea, being groggy for the rest of the day, or allergic reactions to the anaesthetic.
"While these complications are rare, and the patients choice is most important, virtual reality gives our patients another way to pass the time during their operation that didn’t previously exist and isn’t widely available.”
As well as a selection of music concerts and films, the team have been offering relaxation software where patients can sit in virtual woodland or on a tropical beach.