Cost Analysis of Audiovisual-Assisted Therapeutic Ambiance in Radiation Therapy (AVATAR)-Aided Omission of Anesthesia in Radiation for Pediatric Malignancies

Pract Radiat Oncol. 2020 Mar-Apr;10(2):e91-e94. doi: 10.1016/j.prro.2019.09.011. Epub 2019 Sep 28.


Purpose: Because children cannot reliably remain immobile during radiation therapy (RT) for cancer anatomy targeting requiring millimeter precision, daily anesthesia plays a large role in each RT session. Unfortunately, anesthesia is a source of financial burden for patients' families and is invasive and traumatic. This study attempts to assess the cost-savings benefit of audiovisual-assisted therapeutic ambiance in radiation therapy (AVATAR)-aided omission of pediatric anesthesia in RT.

Methods and materials: The baseline time of anesthesia during RT was derived from documented anesthesia billing time during RT simulation at our institution and from the published literature. Current Procedural Terminology and relative value unit codes encompassing anesthesia-related charges from radiation oncology and anesthesia were analyzed in concert with this value to calculate the total cost of pediatric anesthesia per RT session.

Results: The mean number of RT fractions administered per patient with AVATAR-directed anesthesia omission at our institution was 19.0, similar to the 17.6 previously reported. At a mean anesthesia time exceeding 30 minutes (with mean RT duration of 4 weeks), the cost of pediatric anesthesia per RT fraction in non-AVATAR sessions was $1,904.35, yielding a total RT treatment anesthesia cost of $38,087.00 per patient (including simulation). Patients at our institution were not billed for AVATAR-assisted RT.

Conclusions: The ability of AVATAR to obviate the need for daily anesthesia in pediatric RT provides substantial cost-savings. These findings argue for increased utilization of AVATAR and for analyses of RT targeting the accuracy of AVATAR versus conventional anesthesia-guided treatment of pediatric malignancies.

MeSH terms

  • Audiovisual Aids / standards*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs / standards*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / economics*
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy*