A major operation is a scary time for a child and new research shows an iPad game is just as effective as a sedative when it comes to reducing anxiety levels before the anaesthetic kicks in.
The French study of more than 50 children aged four to 10 gave them age-appropriate iPad games to play or a standard sedative. Their anxiety levels, as well as their parents, were then recorded before and after surgery.
Researcher Dr Dominique Chassard said the iPad's benefits were surprising.
"Our study showed that child and parental anxiety before anaesthesia are equally blunted by midazolam or use of the iPad. However, the quality of induction of anaesthesia, as well as parental satisfaction, were judged better in the iPad group.
"Use of iPads or other tablet devices is a non-pharmacologic tool which can reduce peri-operative stress without any sedative effect in paediatric ambulatory surgery."
Study participants were assessed by two psychologists at common anxiety points like arriving at the hospital, being separated from their parents in the operating theatre and in the post anaesthesia care unit.
The research was presented at the World Congress of Anaesthesiologists in Hong Kong with a paper to be published later this year.