Spacers for prostate cancer radiation therapy

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Spacers for prostate cancer radiation therapy

Insertion of a spacer is an effective technique to reduce the side effects of prostate radiation therapy...

The spacer acts as a temporary cushion between the prostate and rectum in order to protect the rectal wall from receiving radiation therapy dose, and in turn can help reduce side-effects including urinary, bowel and sexual function.


Types of spacers

GenesisCare utilises two types of spacers for prostate cancer treatment:

  1. Barrigel
  2. SpaceOAR

Spacers can be used for both internal and external radiation therapy. The spacer gel will dissolve a few months after radiation therapy has been completed.

Avoiding radiation therapy dose to the rectum reduces the potential for rectal inflammation during therapy and further lowers the small risk of delayed rectal bleeding after treatment.

The spacers are routinely used worldwide, but spacers aren’t for everyone. Your doctor is the best person to advise you on suitability for your condition.


Barrigel is a hyaluronic acid material inserted into the tissue planes between the prostate and the rectum, pushing the rectal wall away from the prostate, helping to reduce unwanted radiation doses to the frront rectal wall. Barrigel is a natural, biodegradable material that stays in place for 6 to 9 months and is then broken down by the body over time.

How is Barrigel inserted?

The spacer procedure is usually performed under a light general anaesthetic, although occasionally performed under sedation. An ultrasound probe is inserted into the rectum to ‘visualise’ the prostate, bladder, rectum, and the area surrounding these organs. Thin needles are used to insert the markers into the prostate through the area of skin between the scrotum and anus called the perineum. Using a separate needle, the Barrigel spacer is injected into the space between the rectum and the prostate to increase this area. The gel is sculpted to fit so each insertion is individualised. The procedure takes between 15-30 minutes.

SpaceOAR hydrogel

SpaceOAR hydrogel

SpaceOAR hydrogel is a water-based soft gel implant that is injected before you start your radiation therapy. SpaceOAR hydrogel stays in place for around three months. After that, it’s naturally absorbed by the body.

How is SpaceOAR inserted?

SpaceOAR Hydrogel is inserted via the same method as described for Barrigel above.

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