Center for Advanced Practice


General Anesthesia for Pediatric Radiation Therapy in the Era of COVID-19.

Publication Title

Adv Radiat Oncol

Document Type


PubMed ID



Purpose: Managing pediatric patients requiring daily general anesthesia (GA) for radiation therapy (RT) in the setting of COVID-19 is complex, owing to the aerosolizing nature of GA procedures, the risk of cardiopulmonary complications for infected patients, and the treatment of immunocompromised oncology patients in a busy, densely populated radiation oncology clinic.

Methods and Materials: We developed an institutional protocol to define procedures for COVID-19 testing and protection of patients, caregivers, and staff, hypothesizing that this protocol would allow patients requiring GA to be safely treated, minimizing COVID-19 transmission risk to both patients and staff, and at the same time maintaining pre-COVID-19 patient volumes. All patients underwent COVID-19 testing before their first treatment and thrice weekly during treatment. For patients who tested positive for COVID-19, RT was delivered in the last end-of-day treatment appointment. A negative pressure room was used for GA induction and recovery, and separate physician/nurse teams were designated for in-room versus out-of-room patient management.

Results: Seventy-eight pediatric patients received RT under GA, versus 69 over the same prior year timeframe, and 2 patients received 2 courses of RT under GA, for a total of 80 courses. The mean age was 4.9 years (range, 0.5-19.0 years) and 41 of 78 (52.6%) were male. Two patients (2.6%) received 2 courses of RT under GA, establishing a total of 80 courses. The mean number of treatment fractions was 22.2 (range, 1-40). Two of 78 patients (2.6%) tested positive for COVID-19; both were asymptomatic. Both patients completed treatment as prescribed. Neither patient developed cardiopulmonary symptoms complicating anesthesia, and neither patient experienced grade 3+ acute radiation toxicity.

Conclusions: With careful multidisciplinary planning to mitigate COVID-19 risk, pediatric RT with GA was carried out for a large patient volume without widespread infection and without increased toxic effects from either GA or RT.


General Anesthesia, Pediatric Radiation Therapy, COVID-19, Cardiopulmonary Complications, Radiation Oncology, Pediatric Critical Care



Publication Date