Radioactive seeds are inserted directly into the prostate gland where they emit low-level radiation. There are two types of brachytherapy: permanent seed implants and high dose rate (HDR) seed implants.
- Permanent Seed Implants: Small radioactive seeds are placed in the prostate using ultrasound-guided needles. The implants deliver a high dose of radiation. While the seeds are active, side effects may include frequent urination, feeling a constant need to urinate, slight discomfort during urination, erectile dysfunction and occasional rectal bleeding. The implant procedure typically lasts about an hour and requires spinal anesthesia.
- HDR Seed Implants: HDR implants are temporary. Tiny tubes, or catheters, are placed in the prostate gland and a series of radiation treatments is given through the catheters. Once the treatment is complete, the catheters are pulled out and no radioactive seeds are left in the prostate. Side effects include fatigue, bruising and bleeding in the implanted area, frequent or painful urination, and a feeling of needing to urinate often. The procedure requires two treatments on two consecutive days with an overnight stay in the hospital between the two days. Each treatment takes about an hour.
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