Brachytherapy management of the retroverted uterus using ultrasound-guided implant applicator placement

Nina A. Mayr, Joseph F. Montebello, Joel I. Sorosky, Jamie S. Daugherty, Dan L. Nguyen, George Mardirossian, Jian Z. Wang, Susan M. Edwards, Wenbin Li, William T.C. Yuh

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31 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: Patients with a retroverted uterus present a dilemma for brachytherapy in gynecologic malignancies because of the challenges of the procedure and the risk of uterine perforation. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and outcome of ultrasound-guided brachytherapy applicator placement and intraoperative uterine anteversion in patients with gynecologic malignancies, who have a retroverted uterus. METHODS AND MATERIALS: Thirty-three brachytherapy insertions were performed in 18 patients with retroverted uterus (cervical cancer, 17; vaginal cancer, 1). The endocervical canal was dilated, the intrauterine Fletcher tandem was inserted in retroverted fashion and then anteverted along with the uterus under continuous ultrasound guidance. The anteverted tandem position was secured with vaginal packing and use of a second and/or third flange on the tandem stem. Treatment was delivered with low-dose-rate brachytherapy using afterloading with 137Cs. Brachytherapy was combined with external beam radiation in all patients. Median post-therapy follow-up was 2.17 years (range, 0.75-9.25 years). RESULTS: Procedure. Ultrasound-guided dilation of the cervix was achieved in all procedures. Sounding of the retroverted uterus up to the fundus was accomplished successfully in all but one procedure (because severe retroflexion of the uterus and fixation of the fundus to the sacrum). Ultrasound-guided anteversion of the inserted tandem and uterus was achieved in all procedures. No ultrasonographic evidence of perforation was seen in any of the procedures. Intraoperative radiographs showed satisfactory position of the applicators in 31 of the 33 procedures; 2 cases were re-packed resulting in acceptable final applicator position. No backward rotation of the tandem was observed over the duration of the low-dose-rate brachytherapy application. The mean ratio between the dose to the rectum and Point A was 73%; the ratio between the dose to the bladder and Point A was 76%. Outcome. In the 17 patients with cervical cancer, 2-year pelvic tumor control rate was 100%, and 2-year actuarial disease-free survival was 73%. The patient with vaginal cancer has no evidence of disease 5 months post-therapy. There was one complication (1/18 patients, 5.5%): a rectal stricture in a patient with stage IVA cervical cancer requiring colostomy. CONCLUSIONS: The use of ultrasound-guided uterine anteversion for brachytherapy applicator placement is feasible and results in acceptable outcome and complication rates in a population otherwise difficult to manage and at high risk for uterine perforation. Based on these results, this method is likely preferable to brachytherapy with a retroverted tandem, or to the omission of brachytherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-29
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Oncology

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