A Novel Absorbable Radiopaque Hydrogel Spacer to Separate the Head of the Pancreas and Duodenum in Radiation Therapy for Pancreatic Cancer

Avani D. Rao, Ziwei Feng, Eun Ji Shin, Jin He, Kevin M. Waters, Stephanie Coquia, Robert DeJong, Lauren M. Rosati, Lin Su, Dengwang Li, Juan Jackson, Stephen Clark, Jeffrey Schultz, Danielle Hutchings, Seong Hun Kim, Ralph H. Hruban, Theodore L. DeWeese, John Wong, Amol Narang, Joseph M. HermanKai Ding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Purpose We assessed the feasibility and theoretical dosimetric advantages of an injectable hydrogel to increase the space between the head of the pancreas (HOP) and duodenum in a human cadaveric model. Methods and Materials Using 3 human cadaveric specimens, an absorbable radiopaque hydrogel was injected between the HOP and duodenum by way of open laparotomy in 1 case and endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) guidance in 2 cases. The cadavers were subsequently imaged using computed tomography and dissected for histologic confirmation of hydrogel placement. The duodenal dose reduction and planning target volume (PTV) coverage were characterized using pre- and postspacer injection stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) plans for the 2 cadavers with EUS-guided placement, the delivery method that appeared the most clinically desirable. Modeling studies were performed using 60 SBRT plans consisting of 10 previously treated patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer, each with 6 different HOP–duodenum separation distances. The duodenal volume receiving 15 Gy (V15), 20 Gy (V20), and 33 Gy (V33) was assessed for each iteration. Results In the 3 cadaveric studies, an average of 0.9 cm, 1.1 cm, and 0.9 cm HOP–duodenum separation was achieved. In the 2 EUS cases, the V20 decreased from 3.86 cm3 to 0.36 cm3 and 3.75 cm3 to 1.08 cm3 (treatment constraint <3 cm3), and the V15 decreased from 7.07 cm3 to 2.02 cm3 and 9.12 cm3 to 3.91 cm3 (treatment constraint <9 cm3). The PTV coverage improved or was comparable between the pre- and postinjection studies. Modeling studies demonstrated that a separation of 8 mm was sufficient to consistently reduce the V15, V20, and V33 to acceptable clinical constraints. Conclusions Currently, dose escalation has been limited owing to radiosensitive structures adjacent to the pancreas. We demonstrated the feasibility of hydrogel separation of the HOP and duodenum. Future studies will evaluate the safety and efficacy of this technique with the potential for more effective dose escalation using SBRT or intensity-modulated radiation therapy to improve the outcomes in patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1111-1120
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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