A survey of current clinical practice of permanent prostate brachytherapy in the United States

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1998 Jan 15;40(2):461-5. doi: 10.1016/s0360-3016(97)00715-3.


Purpose: To help establish standards of care for transperineal interstitial permanent prostate brachytherapy (TIPPB) by obtaining data regarding current clinical practice among the most experienced TIPPB brachytherapists in the United States.

Methods and materials: The 70 brachytherapists who performed the greatest number of TIPPB cases in 1995 in the U.S. were surveyed. Each received a comprehensive four page questionnaire that included sections on training and experience, patient and isotope selection criteria, manpower, technique, and follow-up. Thirty-five (50%) surveys were ultimately returned after three mailings and follow-up phone calls. The cumulative experience of the 35 respondents represented approximately 45% of the total TIPPB volume in the U.S. for 1995. Respondents included 29 from the private sector and six from academic programs.

Results: The median physician experience with TIPPB was reported as 4.9 years. Each performed an average of 73 TIPPB procedures in 1995 (range 40-300). This represented an increase in volume for most (74%) of the respondents. Sixty-three percent of the respondents attended a formal training course, 54% had TIPPB-specific residency training, and 31% had been proctored (16 had received two or more types of training experience). The most commonly reported selection criteria for implant alone was on Gleason score < or = 7, PSA < 15, < or = Stage T2a, and gland size < or = 60 cc, although no clear consensus was found. Fifty-four percent considered a history of TURP to be a relative contraindication, while 34% considered TURP to have no impact on patient selection. Eighty-six percent of respondents combine brachytherapy with external beam radiation in an average of 32% of their patients. Boosts were given with both 125I prescribed to 120 Gy (75%) or 103Pd to 90 Gy (50%). Sixty percent reported using a Mick applicator, 46% prefer using preloaded needles, and (11%) use both techniques. Real-time imaging was usually performed with ultrasound (94%); most included fluoroscopy (60%). Definitions of PSA control varied widely.

Conclusions: TIPPB clinical practice in the U.S. demonstrates similarities in technique, but differences in patient selection and definitions of biochemical control. It is, therefore, incumbent on those beginning TIPPB programs to carefully review the specific practice details of those institutions with a broad experience.

MeSH terms

  • Brachytherapy / methods
  • Brachytherapy / standards*
  • Brachytherapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Care Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Selection
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / standards*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Radioisotopes / therapeutic use
  • United States


  • Radioisotopes