To characterize the effect of a prostate-rectum spacer on dose to rectum during external beam radiotherapy for prostate cancer, and to assess for factors correlated with rectal dose reduction.
Materials and methods
Fifty-two patients at 4 institutions were enrolled onto a prospective pilot clinical trial. Patients underwent baseline scans, then were injected with perirectal spacing hydrogel and re-scanned. IMRT plans were created on both scans for comparison. Objectives were to establish rates of creation of ≥7.5mm of prostate-rectal separation, and decrease in rectal V70 of ≥25%. Multiple regression analysis was performed to evaluate associations between pre- vs. post-injection changes in rectal V70 and changes in plan conformity, rectal volume, bladder volume, bladder V70, PTV volume, as well as post-injection mid-gland separation, gel volume, gel thickness, length of PTV/gel contact, or gel left-to-right symmetry.
Hydrogel resulted in ≥ 7.5mm prostate-rectal separation in 95.8% of patients; 95.7% had decreased rectal V70 of ≥ 25%, with mean reduction of 8.0 Gy. There were no significant differences in pre- and post-injection prostate, PTV, rectal, and bladder volumes. Plan conformities were significantly different pre- vs. post-injection (P = 0.02); plans with worse conformity indexes post-injection compared to pre-injection (n=13) still had improvements in rectal V70. In multiple regression analysis, greater post-injection reduction in V70 was associated with decreased relative post-injection plan conformity (P=0.01). Reductions in V70 did not significantly vary by institution, despite significant inter-institutional variations in plan conformity. There were no significant relationships between reduction in V70 and the other characteristics analyzed.
Injection of hydrogel into prostate-rectal interface resulted in dose reductions to rectum for > 90% of patients treated. Rectal sparing was statistically significant across a range of 10–75 Gy, and was demonstrated within the presence of significant inter-institutional variability in plan conformity, target definitions, and injection results.