Interstitial microwave hyperthermia and brachytherapy for malignancies of the vulva and vagina. I: Design and testing of a modified intracavitary obturator

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1992;23(1):189-99. doi: 10.1016/0360-3016(92)90560-5.


A vaginal obturator was fabricated to be used in combination with implanted catheters to provide microwave hyperthermia and brachytherapy to the vulva and vaginal wall. This site is difficult to heat or irradiate solely with interstitial techniques. The obturator was modified to provide grooves for the mounting of interstitial catheters into the outer wall and was matched with a template for circumferential implants. Power deposition tests were done using arrays of three microwave antenna designs: dipole (hA = hB = 3.9 cm), helical (3.9 cm coil, shorted), and modified dipole (1.0 cm helix on dipole tip) to test the performance of the obturator. The obturator and four non-obturator catheters were positioned in muscle-equivalent phantom. Two obturator catheters along with two free-standing catheters formed the obturator array. Four freestanding catheters formed the non-obturator array. Power deposition or specific absorption rate (SAR) measurements were made along the central axis, bisect, and diagonal transect of each array. SAR results showed that antennas in the obturator wall radiated as dipole theory predicts, although with less power density when compared to antennas in the same catheters spaced 1.8 cm from the obturator. This could be compensated for by increasing the power to the antennas in the obturator by 42%. Adjacent pairs of antennas were placed 90 degrees out of phase for 0.25 sec and rotated around the array. Phase rotation demonstrated that the central array SAR peaks could be lowered from 100% to 50% SAR, with dipole antennas thus resulting in lowered peak temperatures and the ability to heat larger volumes by improving the distribution of power. With helical antennas, there was 50% SAR at the array center when operated coherently without phase rotation. Three patients were treated with the obturator and a custom-made template using dipole antennas, and temperatures were measured in five obturator catheters. Therapeutic heating was measured in the catheters on the obturator between antennas in contact with the vaginal mucosa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Brachytherapy / instrumentation*
  • Diathermy / instrumentation*
  • Equipment Design
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Vaginal Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Vaginal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / therapy*