Education reduces children's need for anesthesia during radiotherapy

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health), Jul 7 - Among young patients with cancer, a psychoeducational intervention reduces the percentage of patients requiring anesthesia during radiation treatment, Swiss researchers report in a June 4 issue of the BioMed Central journal Radiation Oncology.

Dr. Nicole Bodmer at University Children's Hospital of Berne and colleagues note that delivery of radiotherapy to young children with cancer is challenging and general anesthesia is often needed.

Psychoeducational efforts have been successful in reducing the need for anesthesia during procedures such as MRI, and the team sought to determine whether such an approach would be useful during radiotherapy.

The researchers had previously developed an intervention that involved talking with the patients and family about aspects of the procedure. Picture books were also used, toys were included, and children were rewarded with bead tokens for every radiotherapy session accomplished.

The researchers retrospectively examined outcomes in 223 patients who underwent 244 radiotherapy courses. Some 154 courses were conducted with routine care prior to application of the psychoeducational intervention. The other 90 courses involved patients who had received the personalized psychoeducational intervention.

The team found that 33 (21.4%) courses delivered with the routine care required anesthesia, compared with only 8 (8.9%) courses in the intervention group.

In addition, the median age of patients who did not need anesthesia fell from 3.2 to 2.7 years.

The investigators conclude that the intervention "was able to significantly reduce the need of anesthesia during radiotherapy. Even young patients were able to cooperate for radiation without anesthesia, which resulted in a reduction of costs and an increased cooperation during radiotherapy."

Radiat Oncol 2008;3.

Last Updated: 2008-07-04 9:26:22 -0400 (Reuters Health)

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