Squirming solution

Screen time helps kids hold still during radiotherapy

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Children who underwent radiation treatment for cancer were less likely to need anesthesia if they were watching videos during the procedure, a study led by Stanford Medicine researchers has found.

With video distraction, 78% of children in the study could hold still through at least one 10- to 30-minute radiotherapy session without anesthesia. Prior studies found that less than half of the children could tolerate radiotherapy without anesthesia.

The study was published in March 2023 in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics.

Most young kids who need radiotherapy get general anesthesia to keep them still during treatment, which allows the radiation beams to be aimed precisely at their tumors.

“If we can get them engrossed in paying attention to something, such as a video they enjoy, that really helps,” said Susan Hiniker, MD, assistant professor of radiation oncology and a senior author of the study.

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Erin Digitale

Erin Digitale is the pediatrics senior science writer in the Office of Communications. Email her at digitale@stanford.edu.

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