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How Safe Is Prostate Artery Embolization? Can Anyone Undergo The Procedure?

Are you struggling with benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), also known as an enlarged prostate? You’re not alone. BPH is the most common prostate problem for men over the age of 50.  At MINT, our team of board-certified interventional radiologists provides prostate artery embolization (PAE) -  a fast and effective minimally invasive procedure that decreases the symptoms of BPH and improves the quality of life. But, how safe is PAE and is PAE safe for everyone? This article answers all of your questions. So, let’s get started.

Understanding an enlarged prostate

The prostate is an important part of a man’s reproductive system with the role of adding fluid to the sperm before ejaculation. It’s located beneath the bladder and wraps around the urethra, the tube transporting urine from the bladder and out of the body.

When you’re young the prostate is quite small but doubles in size with puberty. This is followed by a second growth spurt in the mid-twenties that continues throughout most of a man’s life. It’s during this second phase that the prostate often enlarges to a point where it starts to pinch or squeeze the urethra, thickening the wall of the bladder and making it difficult to urinate. Fortunately, benign prostatic hyperplasia is not cancerous and doesn’t increase your chance of getting cancer; but it can cause a variety of irritating and painful urinary symptoms, including:

Without treatment, the urethra can become blocked, leading to more severe issues, such as infections, bladder stones, and kidney damage.

About prostate artery embolization

PAE works by limiting the blood supply to the prostate gland, causing it to reduce in size. This is achieved through the use of X-ray technology and tiny beads known as microspheres. As the prostate gland diminishes, the pressure on the urethra and bladder decreases, putting an end to bothersome symptoms.

This outpatient procedure is carried out under local anesthesia and typically takes just a few hours. Our MINT specialist makes a small incision to access the blood vessel and employs X-ray imaging to position the microspheres.

You can head home on the same day, and after a day or so of rest, you'll be ready to return to your regular activities. Over the next few weeks, the prostate gland continues to shrink, and normal urine flow gradually resumes.

How safe is PAE?

While PAE is regarded as a safe procedure overall, as with any surgery there are potential risks involved. Consequently, certain factors need to be considered regarding PAE.

Prostate artery embolization is never the first choice of treatment for BPH. Instead, it’s commonly recommended for patients suffering from moderate to severe symptoms who haven’t responded to other methods. Before your healthcare provider suggests PAE, assessments, including imaging studies, are essential.

These imaging studies assist your provider in identifying any anatomical variations in your prostate and predicting potential issues or challenges during the procedure. Additionally, factors such as your age and overall health are crucial in determining your eligibility for PAE and assessing whether it is a safe and suitable treatment option for you.

How effective is PAE?

It is acknowledged as a safe and efficient approach for addressing an enlarged prostate. The outcomes have been impressive, with over 90% of men experiencing improvements in symptoms—such as reductions in prostate volume and increased urinary flow rates—after the procedure. Importantly, choosing PAE does not preclude you from considering other prostate reduction procedures in the future.

While the prostate is likely to take several weeks to shrink, you‘ll start to benefit from

Who Is suitable for PAE?

PAE presents a viable alternative to the conventional transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), making it an appropriate solution for

Nevertheless, PAE might not be appropriate for individuals experiencing urinary tract symptoms, particularly those with an enlarged prostate that is not the primary cause of their symptoms. This is especially true for those with associated issues such as bladder stones or predominantly nighttime symptoms (nocturia).

If you suffer from significant kidney damage or disease, or if you have an allergy to contrast dye, PAE is not a suitable treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in your case.

In cases where men present with 'mild' symptoms during consultation, medication is sometimes deemed the optimal treatment. However, the decision may be influenced by the presence of other factors, concurrent medical conditions, and potential side effects from medications, which can tip the balance in favor of intervention.

If you’d like to learn more about PAE and whether this treatment might suit you, schedule a consultation with the experienced team at MINT.

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