Prostate Cancer: Radioactive Seed Implants
What Happens During The Procedure?
The entire procedure takes approximately 90 minutes. Most patients go home the same day.
A radiation oncologist and urologist perform the procedure. Both physicians are actively involved in all aspects of the implantation, from the planning to the post-operative care. During the procedure, the urologist provides ultrasound guidance and the radiation oncologist places the radioactive seeds.
The procedure is performed as follows:
- After general or spinal anesthesia, the legs are elevated and padded very carefully.
- The ultrasound probe is inserted into the rectum and is used to take pictures of the prostate. The probe remains in place throughout the procedure.
- The radioactive seeds are loaded into the designated number of needles.
- In a specific order, each needle is inserted through the skin in the perineum (the area between the base of the scrotum and the anus) and into the prostate using continuous ultrasound guidance. Once accurate needle placement is confirmed, the seeds in that needle are released. This process is continued until all of the radioactive seeds have been implanted. No surgical incision or cutting is necessary. For HDR, once the needle placements are confirmed, they are filled with a radioactive material. After a period of minutes both the needles and the radioactive material are removed.
- The urologist inserts a tube with a camera called a cystoscope through the penis and into the bladder. If he or she detects any loose radioactive seeds within the urethra or bladder, they are removed.
- If some blood is in the urine, the urologist may place a catheter into the bladder for a short period of time to ensure proper drainage. All patients are instructed how to drain urine from the bladder, if necessary.
What Are The Results?
Results from this treatment approach show that in patients with similar types of prostate cancer, brachytherapy alone or in combination with external beam radiation therapy appears as effective as a radical prostatectomy and regular external radiation therapy.
What Are The Side Effects?
Urinary symptoms are the most common. These include frequent urination and a need to get to the bathroom quickly. Some men have a burning with urination and, in a few cases, an inability to empty the bladder completely.