Movie-watching may negate the need for general anesthesia among pediatric patients undergoing radiotherapy for cancer, according to a study reported at the 36th ESTRO meeting in Vienna, Austria.1

Not only is using video instead of general anesthesia less traumatic for children and their families, each treatment is quicker and more cost effective, Catia Águas, a dosimetrist at the Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc in Brussels, Belgium, told conference attendees.

General anesthesia is used to keep children motionless during their 5-day a week radiotherapy treatments for 4 to 6 weeks.

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“We wanted to see if installing a projector and letting children watch a video of their choice would allow them to keep still enough that we would not need to give them anesthesia,” Dr Águas noted.

The VLADI (Video Launching Applied during Irradiation) project enrolled 12 children between 1.5 and 6 years of age treated with radiotherapy using a Tomotherapy unit. Six children were treated prior to installation of the video projector in 2014 and 6 were treated after installation.

The videos are projected directly onto the inside of the radiotherapy machine during treatment.

General anesthesia was required for 83.3% of treatments prior to video installation compared with 33.3% after installation. Overall, 72.2% of the children benefitted from use of the videos.

Treatment time decreased from an hour or more to 15 to 20 minutes, which was attributed to not having to prepare and administer anesthesia and treating children who were more cooperative — and less anxious.

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“Now, in our clinic, video has almost completely replaced anesthesia, resulting in reduced treatment times and reduction of stress for the young patients and their families,” Dr Águas reported.

The project has been extended to include adult patients who are claustrophobic or anxious.


  1. Palhetinha Aguas C, Humblet P, Renard L, Vaandering A, Roosen V, Coevoet M. Video launching during irradiation – an alternative to anesthesia in pediatric patients? Paper presented at: European Society for Radiotherapy & Oncology (ESTRO) 36th Annual Meeting; May 5-9, 2017; Vienna, Austria.