Could Movies Act as an Alternative Anesthetic?

A Belgian hospital showing <i>Sponge Bob, Cars</i> and <i>Barbie</i> to child patients undergoing radiation therapy
A Belgian hospital showing Sponge Bob, Cars and Barbie to child patients undergoing radiation therapy

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% of the children treated before the video projector was installed needed general anesthesia for their treatment. After the projector was installed, only 33% 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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