Background. Accurate applicator placement is a precondition for the success of gynaecological brachytherapy (BT). Unrecognized uterine perforation can lead to bleeding, infection, high doses to pelvic organs and underdosage of the target volume, resulting in acute morbidity, long-term complications and reduced chance of cure. We aimed to assess the incidence and clinical characteristics of our cases with uterine perforation, review their management and impact on the treatment course.
Patients and methods. In all patients, treated with utero-vaginal image guided BT for gynaecological cancer between January 2006 and December 2011, the CT/MR images with the applicator in place were reviewed. The incidence of uterine perforations was recorded. Clinical factors that may have predisposed to increased risk of perforation were recorded. Management of perforations and their impact on treatment course was assessed.
Results. 219 patients (428 applications) were suitable for analysis. Uterine perforation was found in 13 (3.0%) applications in 10 (4.6%) patients. The most frequent perforation site was posterior uterine wall (n = 9), followed by anterior wall (n = 2) and fundus (n = 2). All cases were managed conservatively, without complications. Prophylactic antibiotics were administered in 8 cases. In 4 patients, abdominal and/or transrectal ultrasound (US) guidance was used on subsequent applications for applicator insertion; adequate applicator placement was achieved and treatment completed as planned in all cases.
Conclusions. 3D imaging for BT planning enables accurate identification of uterine perforations. The incidence of perforations at our department is one of the lowest reported in the literature. US guidance of applicator insertion is useful and feasible, allowing to complete the planned treatment even in challenging cases.