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ISSN: 1689-832X
Journal of Contemporary Brachytherapy
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vol. 10
Original paper

Clinical analysis of speculum-based vaginal packing for high-dose-rate intracavitary tandem and ovoid brachytherapy in cervical cancer

Shivani Sud, Toni Roth, Ellen Jones

J Contemp Brachytherapy 2018; 10, 1: 32–39
Online publish date: 2018/02/28
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Intra-vaginal packing is used to fix the applicator and displace organs at risk (OAR) during high-dose-rate intracavitary tandem and ovoid brachytherapy (HDR-ICB). We retain the speculum from applicator placement as a dual-function bladder and rectum retractor during treatment. Our objective is to review salient techniques for OAR displacement, share our packing technique, and determine the reduction in dose to OAR and inter-fraction variability of dose to OAR, associated with speculum-based vaginal packing (SBVP) in comparison to conventional gauze packing during HDR-ICB.

Material and methods
We reviewed HDR-ICB treatment plans for 45 patients, including 10 who underwent both conventional gauze packing and SBVP. Due to institutional inter-provider practice differences, patients non-selectively received either packing procedure. Packing was performed under conscious sedation, followed by cone beam computed tomography used for dosimetric planning. Maximum absolute and percent-of-prescription dose to the International Commission of Radiation Units bladder and rectal points in addition to D0.1cc, D1.0cc, and D2.0cc volumes of the bladder and rectum were analyzed and compared for each packing method using an independent sample t-test.

Of the 179 fractions included, 73% and 27% used SBVP and gauze packing, respectively. For patients prescribed 6 Gy to point A, SBVP was associated with reduced mean D0.1cc bladder dose, inter-fraction variability in D0.1cc bladder dose by 9.3% (p = 0.026) and 9.0%, respectively, and statistically equivalent rectal D0.1cc, D1.0cc, and D2.0cc. Patients prescribed 5.5 Gy or 5 Gy to point A after dose optimization, were less likely to benefit from SBVP. In the intra-patient comparison, 80% of patients had reduction in at least one rectum or bladder parameter.

In patients with conducive anatomy, SBVP is a cost-efficient packing method that is associated with improved bladder sparing and comparable rectal sparing relative to gauze packing during HDR-ICB without general anesthesia.


intracavitary brachytherapy, cervical cancer, rectal dose, bladder dose, speculum, retractor

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