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Seed Brachytherapy

What is Seed Brachytherapy?

Brachytherapy, or seed brachytherapy, is a form of radiation therapy used to treat prostate cancer. It entails implanting radioactive sources in the prostate gland, where the radiation emitted from these sources can destroy cancer cells while inflicting minimal damage to nearby healthy tissue.

Indications for Seed Brachytherapy

Seed brachytherapy usually has limited tissue penetration and is indicated for:

  • Early-stage prostate cancer
  • Nonaggressive prostate cancer
  • Prostate cancer that has not spread outside the gland 

Preparation of Seed Brachytherapy

  • Pre-procedure preparation for seed brachytherapy involves the following steps:
  • Your doctor may order tests such as transrectal ultrasound, CAT scan, or MRI to guide the proper placement of the implants. 
  • You will be asked if you have allergies to any specific medications or contrast dye.
  • You should inform your doctor of any medications, vitamins, or supplements that you are taking.
  • You may be asked to refrain from certain supplements or medications for some days prior to the procedure.
  • You may be asked to shave the skin around this area.
  • Arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure.
  • Written consent will be obtained from you after the surgical procedure has been explained in detail.

Procedure for Seed Brachytherapy

  • During the procedure, you will be asked to lie down on a procedure table.
  • The doctor will administer general or spinal anesthesia. The legs are elevated and padded very carefully.
  • The prostate is photographed with an ultrasonic probe put into the rectum. Throughout the operation, the probe remains in place.
  • The radioactive seeds are placed inside a predetermined number of long, hollow needles.
  • Each needle is put through the skin of the perineum and into the prostate in a precise order, with continuous ultrasound supervision. The seeds in the needle are released once precise needle placement is confirmed. This procedure is repeated until all radioactive seeds have been implanted.

Postoperative Care for Seed Brachytherapy

  • Perineum soreness and swelling are to be expected. Applying an ice pack to the affected area and taking pain medication as prescribed by your doctor may provide relief.
  • Mild rectal bleeding or spotting may occur in the location where the oncologist inserted the needles for up to 24 hours. There may also be a small amount of blood in your urine which will resolve.
  • For a few days after surgery, your doctor may advise you to apply an antibiotic cream to the surgical site.
  • Prolonged contact with young children such as having them sit on your lap should be limited. You should not sleep in the same bed with a pregnant partner to avoid exposing the fetus and mother to the radiation from the prostate seeds for a couple of months after implantation. Your doctor will inform you of other specific precautions.
  • You can resume normal activities when you feel up to them. Your doctor may give you recovery recommendations, such as avoiding strenuous exercise and lifting heavy objects.

Side Effects of Seed Brachytherapy

Some of the side effects of seed brachytherapy include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Pain and swelling
  • Urine problems
  • Tiredness
  • Blood in urine
  • Bowel changes


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© Dr. Jimmy Lam Urological & Laparoscopic Surgeon North Adelaide SA