Local vaginal anesthesia during high-dose-rate intracavitary brachytherapy for cervical cancer

Hui Chun Chen*, Stephen Wan Leung, Chong Jong Wang, Li Min Sun, Fu Min Fang, Eng Yen Huang, Show Jen Wang, Chin Wen Yang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

27 Scopus citations


Purpose: To evaluate the clinical efficacy of local vaginal lidocaine application for pain relief during high-doserate (HDR) intracavitary brachytherapy for patients with cervical cancer, and to investigate sequential changes in serum levels of lidocaine during the procedures. Methods and Materials: This prospective study was designed to examine the analgesic effect, physical response, and side effects of local anesthesia during HDR intracavitary brachytherapy. Forty patients were enrolled. All patients received 10-15 MV X-rays to the pelvis with a total dose of 45-59.4 Gy 5-6 weeks before undergoing HDR intracavitary brachytherapy. All patients underwent first intracavitary brachytherapy under general anesthesia. These patients were randomly allocated to receive one of two different treatment protocols as follows: (1) treatment session - control session - treatment session - control session; or (2) control session - treatment session - control session - treatment session. In the treatment sessions, topical anesthesia was administered using 4 ml of 10% lidocaine solution sprayed liberally on the cervix and vagina during intracavitary brachytherapy. In the control sessions, a placebo was administered in the same manner during brachytherapy. The Hensche's applicators for brachytherapy were inserted into the cervix and vagina 5 min after lidocaine application. The visual analogue scale (VAS) was used to assess pain and discomfort during brachytherapy. Blood pressure and heart rates were measured to evaluate the physiological response. Another prospective study was then performed to investigate the sequential changes of serum lidocaine levels during the anesthetic procedure. Eleven additional patients with similar disease state and demographic characteristics were enrolled and blood samples were obtained before, and 5, 15, 30, and 45 min after the initiation of lidocaine application. Results: The mean VAS values recorded during the treatment sessions and control sessions were 49.9 ± 24.1 versus 60.1 ± 24.8, respectively. The value of VAS in the treatment session was significantly lower than that of the control session (p < 0.001). No statistically significant differences were found in the changes of blood pressure and heart rate and in the incidence of side effects during these two types of sessions (p > 0.05). In the drug-level study, serum levels of lidocaine reached a peak 5 min after the initiation of local anesthesia. The mean peak concentrations (Cmax) of lidocaine were 0.50 ± 0.45 μg/ml. Conclusion: Local vaginal anesthesia with 10% lidocaine solution can significantly decrease the degree of painful sensation during HDR intracavitary brachytherapy, and is safe to administer for the procedure for cervical cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-544
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 01 10 1998


  • Cervical cancer
  • HDR brachytherapy
  • Lidocaine
  • Topical anesthesia


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