The use of laminarias for osmotic dilation of the cervix in gynecological brachytherapy applications

Nina A. Mayr, Joel I. Sorosky, Weining Zhen, Geoffrey J. Weidner, David H. Hussey, Barrie Anderson, Richard E. Buller

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10 Scopus citations


Purpose: Osmotic dilators (laminarias) have been used for gradual nontraumatic dilation of the cervical canal for various intrauterine procedures; however, this technique has not been well accepted in gynecological brachytherapy. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of osmotic cervical dilation for brachytherapy in gynecologic cancer patients, without the use of general/regional anesthesia, and to assess patient tolerance, complications, and outcome. Methods and Materials: Thirteen brachytherapy procedures were performed in 6 patients with clinical Stages I and II endometrial (5) and Stage IB cervical cancer (1), who were unable to tolerate general/regional anesthesia because of severe medical problems. An osmotic dilator (synthetic laminaria) was inserted into the cervical os 10-12 h before each brachytherapy procedure and removed just before the procedure. Standard Fletcher-Suit-Delclos tandem insertions with vaginal colpostats or cylinders were then performed. Degree of cervical dilation, patient discomfort, procedure time, intra- and postoperative complications were recorded, and local control and survival were assessed. Median follow-up was 31 months (range: 8-35 months). Results: The diameter of the dilated cervical os after laminaria removal was adequate (≥ 5 mm) for tandem insertion, and no additional mechanical dilation was required in all but one procedure (1 of 13). All procedures were performed without general/regional anesthesia. The mean duration of the procedures was 44 min (range, 20-60 min). Discomfort was minimal in all cases. There were no intra- or postoperative complications. All patients maintained local control until death (1 of metastatic disease, 2 of intercurrent disease) or last follow-up (2 with no evidence of disease, 1 alive with metastatic disease). Conclusion: This preliminary study suggests that osmotic cervical dilation with a synthetic laminaria is a useful technique to facilitate intrauterine tandem insertion in patients who cannot tolerate general/regional anesthesia. This technique may reduce treatment-associated morbidity, shorten procedure time, and allow the delivery of adequate radiation therapy in this uncommon but challenging patient population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1049-1053
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 1 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research

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