Radiation Side Effects
Rectal Spacers for Prostate Radiation
Radiation therapy, a standard form of care for treating prostate cancer, can greatly improve your prognosis and quality of life following a prostate cancer diagnosis. Technological advancements in radiation therapy have resulted in more accurate and precise treatment planning than ever before.
Radiation therapy uses energy beams to destroy and stop the spread of cancer cells. These high-energy beams can reach and negatively affect healthy tissue surrounding the prostate. Barrigel rectal spacer is a sculptable gel that temporarily pushes the healthy tissue away, reducing the risk of unwanted radiation exposure and leading to fewer side effects.1
What is a spacer for prostate radiation?
A spacer for prostate radiation is a gel that is inserted between the prostate and rectum prior to radiation treatment, to protect the rectum from radiation exposure. Due to its close proximity to the prostate, the rectum is the primary organ at risk for radiation exposure. Risks and side effects of radiation for prostate cancer include bowel problems such as rectal pain, burning, and/or diarrhea. By using a spacer for prostate radiation, such as Barrigel, to create space between the prostate and the rectum, your doctor can move the healthy organ out of radiation beam exposure, which reduces side effects.1
How is the rectal spacing procedure performed?
The spacer for prostate radiation, Barrigel, is implanted under local or general anesthesia. If you are a patient receiving fiducial markers, Barrigel may be implanted at the same time. Spacing procedures are performed in hospitals, outpatient clinics, or doctors’ offices prior to the start of radiation treatment.
Once anesthesia has been delivered, your doctor will use a medical imaging device called transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) to view your prostate and rectum. They’ll place a needle through your perineum (the area of skin between your scrotum and anus) and inject the spacer between your rectum and your prostate, sculpting the spacer to create a personalized fit for full rectal coverage.
- Mariados NF, Orio PF III, Schiffman Z et al. Hyaluronic acid spacer for hypofractionated prostate radiation therapy: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Oncol. 2023: e1-e8.