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Movies Can Replace Anesthesia for Children Receiving Radiation

Videos promote relaxation and stillness without medication, researchers say

a boy on a hospital bed

TUESDAY, May 9, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- For children with cancer, watching movies during radiation therapy might eliminate their need for general anesthesia, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO), held from May 5 to 9 in Vienna.

Twelve children between 18 months and 6 years old underwent radiation treatment for cancer at a Belgian hospital. Half were treated after a video projector was installed in the radiation therapy room.

The researchers noted that 83 percent of the children treated before the video projector was installed needed general anesthesia for their treatment. After the projector was installed, only 33 percent needed general anesthesia. Treatments that previously took one hour or more now take around 15 to 20 minutes. The researchers said this is partly because of timed saved by not administering anesthesia, and also because children who know they'll see videos are more cooperative.

"Since we started using videos, children are a lot less anxious," study author Catia Aguas, a radiation therapist at the Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc in Brussels, said in an ESTRO news release. "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."

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