SpaceOAR (Rectal Spacer) for Prostate Radiation Therapy

Author: OncoLink Team
Last Reviewed:

Radiation therapy is a treatment option for prostate cancer. Radiation therapy can be very effective in treating prostate cancer. Some providers may suggest the use of SpaceOAR with treatment. The use of SpaceOAR can reduce radiation exposure to the rectum, and potentially reduce side effects from radiation therapy.  

What is SpaceOAR?  

SpaceOAR

SpaceOAR is a gel-like substance called hydrogel that creates a temporary space between the rectum and the prostate. Creating this space reduces the effects of radiation to the rectum. SpaceOAR stands for “Spacing Organs at Risk.” The hydrogel is made up of two liquids and when combined they form a soft gel that is mostly water. The hydrogel is safe to use in the body and has been FDA approved in the United States. It is put into the body using a needle and stays in place for about 3 months, which is long enough to complete a course of radiation therapy. The gel then liquefies and is completely absorbed by the body.   

How do I prepare for the procedure to place the SpaceOAR? 

Starting the day before your procedure you will likely be instructed to take an antibiotic; you will continue this for 3 days. On the morning of your procedure, you may eat a light breakfast and continue your normal intake of water. To help reduce gas and stool in your rectum, it is usually recommended that you do an enema at home. Your care team should give you specific instructions on when to do this. If you are taking a blood thinner (such as coumadin, aspirin, or NSAIDs), your provider may ask you to stop taking it prior to the procedure.  

What can I expect with the procedure? 

The SpaceOAR rectal spacer placement is done as an outpatient procedure in a hospital, surgery center, or your provider’s office. The procedure usually takes about 15 minutes, but you can expect to be in the clinic for about 60 minutes. In most cases, this procedure is done with local anesthesia (medication is used to numb the area). The procedure can also be done under regional or general anesthesia, where you are sedated or asleep. Your provider will discuss this with you to determine which option is best for you. You will need to arrange for someone to drive you home.   

Approximately 30 minutes prior to the procedure you may be given medication to help with anxiety and Tylenol for mild pain relief. During the procedure, you will be lying on your back with your feet up in stirrups. This is a position similar to how a prostate needle biopsy is performed. An ultrasound probe will be inserted in your rectum. The perineum (the flat skin between your anus and scrotum) will be numbed with lidocaine injections. Then a needle will be inserted into the perineum to inject the rectal spacer gel. During the procedure, you will feel pressure or pinching, but you should not feel significant discomfort. In most cases, you should be able to resume normal activities right after the procedure if your provider did not give any restrictions. 

Is SpaceOAR right for me? 

SpaceOAR is appropriate for many men, but it is not for everyone. It is important to know that SpaceOAR is one of many tools in the toolbox. You and your provider should talk about options for your treatment and make a decision together about the best treatment for you. 

References

SpaceOAR Hydrogel. What is SpaceOAR Hydrogel? Found at: https://www.spaceoar.com/patients/

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