TGH and Florida Urology Partners Are First In the Nation to Offer Groundbreaking ProcedurePublished: 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. Dr. John David, assistant professor and director of Brachytherapy Services and Radiopharmaceuticals at USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and a radiation oncologist at Tampa General, will be performing the Barrigel procedure in the near future. 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.
“As a next-generation technology, it can help prostate cancer patients achieve a better quality of life,” said David. “Patients can quickly return to their current day-to-day activities.”
“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.”
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