Miscellaneous: Poster Abstract: Vaginal dilator therapy to prevent stenosis from radiotherapy: A systematic review
This article was originally published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow and was migrated to Scientific Scholar after the change of Publisher.
Pelvic radiotherapy may damage the vagina and cause vaginal stenosis. Its incidence in the literature ranges from 1.2% to 88%. To prevent vaginal stenosis, routine vaginal dilation is recommended during and after pelvic radiotherapy.
Materials and Methods:
The objective was to examine critically the evidence behind this guideline. Searches included the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, MEDLINE, EMBASE and Google scholarly articles. All the relevant articles were included in the study.
Various studies gave recommendations on dilation during or immediately after radiotherapy. Literature does not support routine vaginal dilatation during or immediately after pelvic radiotherapy. Occasional penetration might prevent the sides of the vagina adhering to each other, and dilation might be valuable once the inflammatory and psychological scarring has settled. Two trials demonstrated that encouraging vaginal dilation increased patient compliance, but no difference was found in sexual function scores in the first trial. One retrospective study reported that dilation lowered stenosis rates, but the control group is not comparable. One study involving 89 women revealed that the median vaginal length was 6 cm, six to ten weeks after radiation therapy, but women tolerated a 9-cm dilator/measurer after 4 months of dilation experience. One trial showed no significant advantage by inserting mitomycin C. A study of five women reported that vaginal stenosis can be treated by dilation even many years after radiotherapy. Dilation during or immediately after radiotherapy can cause damage, and there is no evidence that it prevents stenosis. Dilation might stretch the vagina if commenced after the inflammatory phase. Dilation has been associated with traumatic rectovaginal fistulae and psychological consequences.
Vaginal dilation might help treat the late effects of radiotherapy, but it must not be assumed that this applies to the acute toxicity phase. Routine dilation during treatment is not supported by good evidence. Prophylactic and therapeutic dilation therapy needs to be considered separately and research is needed to determine when dilation therapy should start on a large population.