A comparison of dosimetric parameters in high-dose-rate intracavitary brachytherapy using tandem and ring applicators: is the combination of a rectal retractor and radio-opaque vaginal packing better than rectal retractor alone for rectum sparing in cervical cancer?

8 Aug 2022
Siddarth Vats, Shabnum Thakur, Mukesh Sharma, Manish Gupta, Lalit Chandrakant, Muninder Negi, Swati Verma, Anup Negi, Vivek Kumar, Parul Sharma, Rattan Mahesh Negi

Purpose: To describe a novel packing technique of combining radio-opaque vaginal packing (VP) with rectal retractor (RR) blade to displace rectum and to compare the standard International Commission on Radiation Units & Measurements-38 (ICRU-38) rectal, bladder point doses and volume parameters with the conventional technique of using RR alone with tandem and ring (T&R) applicators in high-dose-rate (HDR) intracavitary brachytherapy (ICB) for cervical cancer.

Materials and methods: A retrospective analysis of the treatment plans of a cohort of 24 consecutively treated patients with locally advanced cervical cancer was performed. All patients received external beam radiotherapy with a dose of 45–50.4 Gy, in fractions of 1.8–2 Gy, to the whole pelvis with concurrent weekly chemotherapy, followed by HDR-ICB. The treatment plans for each brachytherapy session using T&R applicators that these patients received were included for analysis. A total of 17 treatment plans in which the combination of RR and radio-opaque VP was used for rectum separation were included in the combination (RR+VP) group, and 21 treatment plans in which a RR alone was used were included in the conventional (RR) group.

Results: The mean dose to the ICRU rectal point was 39.7% of the point A dose (range, 28.8%–50.4%; median 38.6%) in the RR+VP group and 52.7% (range, 46.9%–63.6%; median 51.7%) in the RR group. This 13% reduction in the mean dose to the ICRU rectal point was statistically significant (p = 0.001). The mean dose to the ICRU bladder point was 55.4% of the point A dose (range, 26.3%–73.6%; median 57.4%) in the RR+VP group and 45.3% (range, 23.7%–72.7%; median 46.9%) in the RR group. This 10.1% increase in the mean dose to the ICRU bladder point was also significant (p = 0.024). The other point dose and volume parameters were similar between groups.

Conclusion: Compared to the conventional use of a RR blade alone for rectum separation, combining a RR blade with radio-opaque VP significantly reduced the ICRU rectal point dose.

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