Living with an enlarged prostate can seriously affect your overall quality of life. Not only can it be extremely uncomfortable, but it may also slow down the flow of urine and impact ejaculation. Approximately 50% of men between 51 and 60 develop the condition, and that number steadily climbs with age.
Although a benign enlarged prostate is not cancerous or life-threatening, it should be treated. One procedure proving popular owing to its high success rate is prostate artery embolization (PAE for short).
In this article, we´re going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the procedure.
What is prostate artery embolization?
Prostate artery embolization is a non-surgical procedure for treating enlarged prostates. Tiny plastic microspheres are released into blood vessels (arteries) feeding the prostate gland. Once in place, they block off the blood flow causing the swelling.
Why would I need PAE?
The treatment is for men with an enlarged prostate that is causing them considerable problems. These can include straining to pee, needing to pee frequently during the night, stop-start peeing and accidentally leaking urine.
What happens during a PAE procedure?
A tiny catheter is placed into the arteries feeding the prostate then a solution containing thousands of microscopic beads is injected. Once in place, they block the flow of blood to the prostate, so it is starved of its blood supply. During the procedure, you will lie on your back and be awake throughout.
How long does PAE take?
This varies from patient to patient and depends on the severity of their condition. The typical duration of a prostate artery embolization is around two hours. Patients are able to go home the same day. Recovery only takes a few days before people can go about their normal routine, including returning to work.
Does PAE hurt?
No, the treatment does not hurt, so you will not need a general anesthetic. However, a local anesthetic will be applied where the catheter is inserted. At the end of the procedure, the catheter is withdrawn. You may feel a warm sensation during the injection of the beads but no pain. If you are nervous, you may be given a sedative to help you relax.
Are there any risks associated with prostate artery embolization?
PAE is deemed a safe procedure, but there can be some risks and complications, as with any medical treatment. According to the World Journal of Urology, some people may experience some side effects such as rectal bleeding, acute urinary retention and transient blood in the urine. Some men may experience a slight burning sensation in the pelvis for a few days following the procedure.
PAE is safer and more effective when performed by experienced professionals such as the team at MINT.
What are the key benefits of prostate artery embolization?
- The recovery time is less than other surgical treatments for enlarged prostates
- There is a lower risk of side effects than other treatments for enlarged prostates
- Prostate shrinks over the course of several months
- It is a minimally invasive treatment
- Reduced symptoms
- Improved quality of life
Will PAE cause incontinence?
No, it will not. Incontinence is actually a known possible side effect of TURP. This surgical prostate procedure involves inserting a resectoscope into the tip of the penis.
Is PAE performed through the penis?
No. Nothing goes in your penis. PAE is performed inside arteries.
What is the PAE success rate?
Prostate artery embolization has a high success rate, with around 90% of patients enjoying symptom relief during the first year. Following the procedure, you can once again enjoy a normal, happy life. Around six months after having PAE, the prostate has shrunk by about 40%. This shrinking allows the urethra to open up and urine to flow more normally. Shrinkage does not harm sexual function.
If PAE doesn´t work for you for some reason, there are still other options such as TURP and a prostatectomy.
Will PAE affect my ability to have children?
No, it won´t. PAE does not affect fertility. One side effect that some men experience is their sexual performance improves.
Do I need a referral for a PAE?
No, you do not. However, a comprehensive examination by a urologist is important.
Is prostate artery embolization right for me?
PAE is for men who either don´t want to go down the traditional surgical route or are ineligible for it. A consultation with the team at MINT will determine if you are a candidate for the procedure. During this discussion, we will ask you if you have any urinary symptoms, their severity and how they impact your quality of life.
You are also a candidate for PAE if:
- Your benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) isn´t well controlled with medications.
- Your prostate is too large for other procedures.
- Previous surgeries to treat your BPH were unsuccessful.
Want to know more about prostate artery embolization?
If your questions haven´t been answered here, or you want to know more about any aspect of PAE, get in touch with the specialists at MINT. We´ll be happy to answer all your questions. Contact us today and schedule a consultation at one of our 5 clinics, including the latest addition in Chicago, IL.