If you qualify for focal brachytherapy, you must undergo rectal spacing first. Rectal spacing reduces the risk of radiation damage and improves the treatment’s accuracy. At the Prostate Cancer Institute of Arizona in Chandler, Arizona, cancer treatment specialist Ajay Bhatnagar, MD, completes rectal spacing on an outpatient basis. Call the office today to request a rectal spacing consultation, or book your appointment online.
Rectal spacing is a procedure completed before you undergo brachytherapy or external beam radiation therapy.
Dr. Bhatnagar inserts a rectal spacer during the same procedure. A rectal spacer is a gel placed between your prostate gland and rectum. It protects your rectum from radiation and relieves uncomfortable side effects.
Rectal spacers stay in place for about three months. After that time, the gel dissolves and exits your body in your urine.
Rectal spacing is necessary to improve the safety of prostate cancer treatment. Without a rectal spacer, you’re more likely to experience radiation-related side effects, including rectal bleeding, painful bowel movements, and abdominal cramping.
Before your rectal spacing procedure, Dr. Bhatnagar reviews your medical records and asks about your well-being, including if you have allergies, take prescription medication, or have a heart condition.
Let Dr. Bhatnagar know about the vitamins and supplements you take. Some drugs can increase the risk of complications, so he might ask you to stop taking these medicines before treatment.
Dr. Bhatnagar can perform your rectal spacing procedure at his office or nearby hospital or surgical center.
At the beginning of treatment, Dr. Bhatnagar administers a local anesthetic to numb the perineal rectal area. Once the anesthetic sets in, he uses ultrasound imaging to view your prostate.
Dr. Bhatnagar inserts a needle into your perineum (the skin between your anus and scrotum) and confirms he is in the fat space in between the rectum and prostate. Once the needle is in this space, he injects a gel to fill and increase this space and provide a barrier for the rectum from the radiation.
After rectal spacing, it’s normal to feel some fullness or pressure in your rectum. Though uncomfortable, the sensation won’t affect your ability to pass bowel movements. Avoid putting anything into your rectum for at least three months unless Dr. Bhatnagar advises otherwise.
Dr. Bhatnagar prescribes antibiotics to prevent infection and pain medicine. You can return to work and do other routine activities in 24 hours.
Call the Prostate Cancer Center of Arizona today to learn more about rectal spacing, or book your appointment online.