Endorectal Balloons for Prostate Radiation Therapy

Author: Courtney Misher, MPH, BS R.T.(T)
Content Contributor: Katherine Okonak, MSW, LSW
Last Reviewed: April 05, 2024

Radiation therapy can be used to treat prostate cancer. An endorectal balloon may be used with treatment. An endorectal balloon can lessen the effects of radiation to the rectum and provide more accurate radiation treatment to the prostate.

What is an endorectal balloon?

Rectal Balloon

An endorectal balloon is a small device made of a soft moveable material. It has a flexible rounded tip with a small narrow balloon on one end of a thin tube. The empty balloon is lubricated (gel used to make the balloon go in smoothly) and placed into the rectum. This is done while you are lying on your back on a treatment table with your knees bent and your feet resting flat on the table. Water (or another liquid) is then put into the tube using a syringe. This fills up the balloon. The water stays in the balloon during your treatment. Once treatment is done, the water from the balloon is taken out through the tube using a syringe. The tube and balloon are then taken out of the rectum. A new balloon and syringe will be used each day for treatment. You will also have it placed for your CT scan, which is used to plan your radiation treatments (also known as the simulation session).

Why are endorectal balloons used?

Endorectal balloons can be used to help:

  • Remove rectal gas.
  • Keep the prostate from moving during the treatment.
  • Provide a more consistent set-up for daily treatments.
    • During radiation therapy, it is important that your body is in the exact same position for every treatment. Some organs in the treatment area may shift, especially those that are filled with food, urine, stool, air, etc. An endorectal balloon helps lessen the movement of your prostate, allowing the radiation treatment to be delivered accurately.

Will the endorectal balloon hurt?

The balloon has no seams and a soft/flexible rounded tip that is about the same diameter as a straw. Most people say that they feel some pressure, but not pain, while the balloon is being placed and filled with water. Most people do not have issues with the balloon during treatment.

Is an endorectal balloon the best option for me?

Endorectal balloons can be used for many people, but they are not for everyone and there are other options. You and your provider should talk about your options and decide together the best treatment for you.

Ronson, B., Yonemoto, L., Rossi, C., Slater, J. (2006). Patient tolerance of rectal balloons in conformal radiation treatment of prostate cancer. International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics, 64(5): 1367-70. https://www.redjournal.org/article/S0360-3016(05)02866-X/fulltext

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