The objective of this overview was to critically evaluate the effect of polyethylene glycol (PEG)-based hydrogel spacers during prostate brachytherapy with regard to dosimetric and clinical benefits, as well as procedure-related toxicity.

A systematic search in the PubMed database was performed.

A total of 12 studies, involving 615 patients with PEG hydrogel injection, were included. Overall, patients well tolerated the implantation of PEG hydrogel spacers with an excellent safety profile. However, although there were some procedure-related complications, rates of these complications were very rare. Toxicities related to the spacer were limited to Grade 1 rectal discomfort and pain (9/615 patients), Grade 2 rectal ulceration (1 in 615 patients), perineal abscess (1 in 615 patients), and bacterial prostatitis (2/615 patients) according to Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events v4.0 grading scheme. The application of PEG hydrogel spacers significantly reduced radiation doses to the rectum during prostate brachytherapy in the different setting. Although there was no prospective randomized clinical trial, retrospective studies showed that reducing rectal doses by the implantation of PEG hydrogel may result in an improvement in rectal toxicity.

The insertion of hydrogel spacers is safe, resulting in a significant decrease in rectal doses. This may lead to a reduction in rectal or gastrointestinal toxicity. Prospective randomized clinical trials are warranted to confirm the clinical impact of rectal dosimetric improvements.

Brachytherapy. 2019 Sep 18 [Epub ahead of print]

Mahdieh Afkhami Ardekani, Hamed Ghaffari

Department of Radiology, Faculty of Para-Medicine, Hormozgan University of Medical Sciences, Bandar-Abbas, Iran., Department of Medical Physics, School of Medicine, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran. Electronic address: .