Pediatric patients are better able to tolerate radiation therapy without anesthesia when video movies are projected on the inside of the machine during treatment, according to a presentation at the 36th annual meeting of the European Society for Radiotherapy & Oncology (ESTRO 36).
“Sponge Bob, Cars, and Barbie have been popular movie choices with our patients,” said Catia Aguas, a radiation therapist and dosimetrist at the Cliniques Universitaires Saint Luc in Brussels, Belgium. Aguas discussed her program, which circumvents the need for anesthesia in pediatric patients during radiotherapy treatment.
By projecting a video of the child’s choosing on the inside of a radiotherapy machine, Aguas’ team was able to spare pediatric cancer patients dozens of does of general anesthesia in addition to reducing treatment time and cost.
The study included 12 children aged 1 to 6 years undergoing radiotherapy using a Tomotherapy® treatment unit. Six children were treated without a video projector and 6 were treated after the installation of a video projector. Prior to the installation of the video project 83% of patients needed anesthesia, whereas it was needed for only 33% of children after the video installation.
Radiation therapy can be a scary experience for children. They are in a huge room full of machines and strange noises, and worst of all, they are in that room alone throughout the treatment. In addition, they have already been through tests and treatments, some of which are painful. Therefore, at this point, they do not feel very safe or confident, explained Aguas. “Since we started using videos, children are a lot less anxious. Now they know that they’re going to watch a movie of their choice, they’re more relaxed and once the movie starts it’s as though they travel to another world.”
Because the children are more relaxed and there is less time spent prepping for anesthesia, treatments that took 1 hour or longer now take only 15 to 20 minutes. The projector was easy to install noted Aguas and reduces costs associated with anesthesia. The researchers plan to extend their efforts to include adult patients with claustrophobia or anxiety issues.
1. Watching movies can replace general anaesthesia for children with cancer having radiotherapy [news release]. Vienna, Austria: European Society for Radiotherapy & Oncology; May 8, 2017. http://www.estro.org/binaries/content/assets/estro/conferences/estro36/media-2017/5.-aguas_children.pdf. Accessed June 1, 2017.