TGH and Florida Urology Partners Are First In the Nation to Offer Groundbreaking Procedure

Published: Oct 17, 2022

Tampa General is announcing a new FDA-cleared procedure that helps spare healthy tissues when delivering curative radiation treatment.


Tampa, FL (Oct. 17, 2022) – Tampa General Hospital (TGH), in partnership with Florida Urology Partners, are the first in the U.S. to offer a next-generation technology that recently received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 510(k) clearance.

Barrigel is an injectable, flexible, biodegradable material that provides a barrier between the prostate and rectum to protect the healthy tissue during radiation therapy treatment for prostate cancer. It stays in place for the duration of the radiation treatment and safely dissolves in about three months.

“This is a game changer,’’ said Dr. Raviender Bukkapatnam, chief of the Urology Institute at Tampa General. “The focus of radiation treatment is to cure cancer non-invasively, and this device helps us protect the areas of the healthy tissues around the prostate gland when delivering a curative radiation treatment. It’s the next big step in cancer care.’’

Dr. Alexander Engelman, director of radiation oncology at Florida Urology Partners and a radiation oncologist with TGH Cancer Institute, is the first in the U.S. to perform the procedure following FDA clearance. At Tampa General, and Florida Urology Partners, the procedure is done in an outpatient setting.

Injected as a gel into the body, Barrigel prevents radiation from penetrating the rectum, reducing potential damage and side effects. The procedure can be done on an outpatient basis in less than 30 minutes and is covered by most insurance plans. The new implant could benefit many of the estimated 268,000 men in the United States diagnosed annually with prostate cancer and who will be treated with radiation therapy. 

“Barrigel allows us to maximize the opportunity for a cure while minimizing side effects,’’ said Engelman. “This leads to the opportunity for an improved recovery and healing experience for the patient.’’ Engelman was Tampa’s only site principal investigator for the Barrigel national clinical trial. 

“Being the first in the nation to bring such an innovative approach that can significantly improve patient care is the type of advancement we envisioned when we began the Cancer Institute in April of 2021,” said Dr. Eduardo Sotomayor, director of the TGH Cancer Institute. “Barrigel is just another example of how we envision innovative and compassionate care.” 

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the United States and takes more than 35,000 lives annually. The majority survive due to the proven treatments, including radiation therapies. However, the negative side effects of radiation exposure can affect these patients’ quality of life. Barrigel might change the equation, said Dr. Richard Tuli, professor and chair of Radiation Oncology at USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and deputy director of the TGH Cancer Institute.

“We’re embracing cutting-edge technologies that were unthinkable a decade ago. Barrigel can be sculpted for a personalized fit to each patient’s anatomy for optimal protection,’’ said Tuli. “It flexes with the body’s movements after the treatment period and is fully absorbed by the body. It truly is a breakthrough in radiation oncology.”

For more information on Tampa General’s urology and cancer services, visit TGH Urology Institute and TGH Cancer Institute.



Tampa General Hospital, a 1,040-bed, not-for-profit, academic medical center, is one of the largest hospitals in America and delivers world-class care as the region’s only center for Level l trauma and comprehensive burn care. Tampa General Hospital is the highest-ranked hospital in the market in U.S. News & World Report's 2022-23 Best Hospitals, and is tied as the third highest-ranked hospital in Florida, with seven specialties ranking among the best programs in the United States. Tampa General Hospital has been designated as a model of excellence by the 2022 Fortune/Merative 100 Top Hospitals list. The academic medical center’s commitment to growing and developing its team members is recognized by two prestigious Forbes magazine rankings – first nationally in the 2022 America’s Best Employers for Women and sixth out of 100 Florida companies in the 2022 America's Best Employers by State. Tampa General is the safety net hospital for the region, caring for everyone regardless of their ability to pay, and in fiscal year 2020, provided a net community benefit worth more than $182.5 million in the form of health care for underinsured patients, community education, and financial support to community health organizations in Tampa Bay. It is one of the nation’s busiest adult solid organ transplant centers and is the primary teaching hospital for the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. With six medical helicopters, Tampa General Hospital transports critically injured or ill patients from 23 surrounding counties to receive the advanced care they need. Tampa General houses a nationally accredited comprehensive stroke center, and its 32-bed Neuroscience, Intensive Care Unit is the largest on the West Coast of FloridaIt also is home to the Jennifer Leigh Muma 82-bed Level IV neonatal intensive care unit, and a nationally accredited rehabilitation center. Tampa General Hospital’s footprint includes 17 Tampa General Medical Group Primary Care offices, TGH Family Care Center Kennedy, TGH Brandon Healthplex, TGH Virtual Health, and 21 TGH Imaging powered by Tower outpatient radiology centers throughout Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Palm Beach counties. Tampa Bay area residents also receive world-class care from the TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track network of clinics, and they can even receive home visits in select areas through TGH Urgent Care at Home, powered by Fast Track. As one of the largest hospitals in the country, Tampa General Hospital is the first in Florida to partner with GE Healthcare and open a clinical command center that provides real-time situational awareness to improve and better coordinate patient care at a lower cost. For more information, go to