Four innovations will be fast-tracked into use in the NHS through the Innovation and Technology Payment 2019/20 programme, supported by the AHSN Network. One of these is SpaceOARTM Hydrogel.

Challenge/problem identified

Around 14,000 men a year receive radiotherapy as a treatment option for prostate cancer.

As the rectum is very close to the prostate, it can inadvertently receive high dose radiation during radiotherapy, causing rectal toxicity. Side effects of rectal toxicity are common and include radiation proctitis, diarrhoea, rectal bleeding, painful defaecation and faecal urgency.  These debilitating side effects can linger for many years, and significantly diminish a patient’s quality of life.

Symptoms can range from mild to severe and may require hospital treatment – according to data from the National Prostate Cancer Audit 2018, one in ten men will suffer a severe gastrointestinal complication within two years of undergoing radiotherapy to treat their prostate cancer.


To address the issue of rectal toxicity, Augmenix Inc (acquired by Boston Scientific in October 2018) developed SpaceOARTM Hydrogel.

SpaceOAR is a soft, absorbable polyethylene glycol (PEG) gel spacer that is injected into the space between the prostate and the rectum prior to prostate radiotherapy. It pushes the rectum away from the prostate to decrease a patient’s exposure to rectal radiation during radiotherapy, which is proven to reduce to reduce short and long-term radiation exposure side-effects.

It remains in place for around three months, and then liquefies. It is naturally absorbed and cleared from the body via the kidneys within around six months.

The gel is inserted via one injection and because it is a minimally invasive procedure, it can be carried out under local or general anaesthesia. A team of dedicated international clinical specialists provide clinicians with training through a certification programme.


SpaceOAR™ Hydrogel is clinically proven to minimise urinary, sexual, and bowel side-effects of radiation therapy. There are over 60 clinical publications on SpaceOAR, including a 222-patient prospective multicentre randomised clinical study with three-year follow up data which demonstrated:

  • 73% relative reduction in rectal V70 (radiation to the rectum)
  • 75% reduction in rectal toxicity at three years
  • No grade 2+ rectal toxicity at three years in the SpaceOAR arm
  • 67% of men maintained potency at three years compared to 38% in the control group
  • Control patients were eight-times more likely to experience a decline in bowel, sexual or urinary quality of life compared to the SpaceOAR arm.


As a result, follow-up care costs including for physician visits, endoscopy procedures, hospital stays and medication can be reduced.

Over 35,000 patients worldwide have benefitted from the SpaceOAR hydrogel procedure and there are currently nine NHS hospitals using SpaceOAR.

Find out more

Mark Buckley, International Marketing Manager


T: +44 7920 834 458