Video reduces need for children to undergo general anaesthetic

An animation developed by Nottingham Trent University could prevent poorly children from having to undergo a general anaesthetic before magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

An animation developed by Nottingham Trent University could prevent poorly children from having to undergo a general anaesthetic before magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

Andrew Love, course leader for BA (Hons) Animation at the School of Art & Design, is involved in a collaborative project which aims to reduce anxiety in five to 11-year-olds undergoing scans for diseases such as cancer.

MRI scans require children to remain still for prolonged periods of time so clinicians can obtain potentially life-saving data. But many children become distressed and have to be sedated.

The short film – which features a space rocket analogy to provide children with a coping mechanism – has been proven to reduce the anxiety children experience at the thought of undergoing a scan.

The project is in collaboration with Dr Rob Dineen, clinical associate professor of neuroimaging at University of Nottingham. The video was developed by Nottingham Trent University digital animation student Rachel Man.

"Children can become distressed when undergoing an MRI scan, particularly because of the confined space, loud noises and the need for them to stay still for a long period of time,” said Mr Love, an expert in narrative animation.

"Sometimes the only option is for a child to undergo a general anaesthetic, which carries risks. So we've developed a short film which will help dispel children's anxieties and improve their ability to stay still, reducing the need for sedation."

The animation – which would be watched in advance by a child on the internet – shows the main character, Jess, a fictitious poorly child, pretending to enter a space rocket as she goes into the confined scanner.

The loud noises produced by the scanner are imagined to be other rockets flying past in space and the close-fitting head coil makes for an imaginary astronaut's helmet.

A study of 23 healthy five to 11-year-olds who watched the video showed there were significant improvements in their levels of anxiety. It also showed that it retained their attention, improved their knowledge and was enjoyable.

Dr Dineen said: "It's vital that we're able to obtain good quality images from MRI scans to help us treat poorly children properly.

"But if a child is too distressed to stay still, the quality of those images can be severely affected. In some cases children can become so distressed that they can't complete a scan.

"As well as potential complications, general anaesthetics incur significant costs. For a hospital with limited resources, an increase in the number of children who can complete a scan while awake could increase the number of paediatric scans that hospital could offer.

"By allowing children to watch a short video, we can reduce their levels of anxiety and improve their chances of completing a scan without sedation or a general anaesthetic."

Miss Man, who recently graduated, said: "I never imagined I would be involved in something which could make a medical difference for children as part of my degree.

"I'm thrilled to know that this video may enable hospitals to undertake more MRI scans and help prevent poorly children from undergoing a gruelling general anaesthetic."

 

Video reduces need for children to undergo general anaesthetic

Published on 24 September 2015
  • Category: Press office; Research; School of Art & Design

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