If you’re struggling with an enlarged prostate (BPH) it may help to know that you’re not alone. Around half of all American men have benign prostatic hypertrophy (as the condition is medically known) by the time they hit the age of 60. Fortunately, a relatively new treatment PAE – prostate artery embolization – can remove the discomfort and pain of this condition, helping you to enjoy life once more.
What is BPH exactly?
BPH refers to the enlargement of the small gland (prostate) located under the bladder and around the urethra, responsible for producing seminal fluid. Fortunately, the condition is not cancerous but its symptoms can be troublesome and include:
- Intense and abrupt need to urinate
- Regular urination during the night
- Difficulty in urination and incomplete bladder emptying
- Elevated risk of urinary tract infections
- Discomfort and effort during urination
- Feeble or sluggish urine stream
- Delayed onset of urination
- Dribbling after urination and episodes of incontinence
Depending on the severity of your condition and if it’s preventing you from doing the things you enjoy, your doctor may decide it’s time to decide on a treatment to get your life back on track.
At MINT, we offer PAE – one of the fastest and safest treatments for an enlarged prostate.
This post answers some of the questions you may have if you’re considering the treatment. But first, what exactly is prostate artery embolization?
An interventional radiologist (IR) conducts the PAE procedure, addressing conditions without the need for surgical intervention.
The treatment is carried out on an outpatient basis, using imaging technology to treat the enlarged prostate. It works by reducing the blood flow to the artery feeding the prostate. The lack of blood causes the artery to shrink which, in turn, relieves urinary issues.
How do I know if prostate artery embolization is right for me?
PAE is for those unable or unwilling to have traditional surgery and interested in an alternative solution. Scheduling an exam with an interventional radiologist will ascertain if you are a suitable candidate or not.
You are likely to be asked questions such as how often you experience urinary symptoms of BPH, their severity, and how your life is impacted. Before the procedure, the workup may include testing your urine (urinalysis) together with a digital rectal exam to gauge the size of your prostate. Patients may also undergo an MRI or ultrasound of the prostate gland, and, in some cases, a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) may be performed to rule out prostate cancer.
What to expect during prostate artery embolization?
PAE in a nutshell
During your procedure, a small incision is made either in your wrist or groin into which a small catheter with a balloon at the end is inserted.
Microscopic plastic beads, referred to as microspheres, are released into the artery. These microspheres travel to the vein supplying blood to your prostate, thereby restricting the blood supply to the gland.
Utilizing imaging technology, we can ensure the accurate placement of the beads. This process is then repeated on the other side, culminating in a total procedure time of approximately 2-3 hours.
Because there is no need for general anesthsia, you will be able to go home once the procedure is complete. Expect to be discharged from the clinic within a few hours of the procedure and once you have shown you can urinate.
What happens after prostate artery embolization?
The PAE procedure reduces the blood flow to the areas most affected by BPH, leading to the necrosis or death of isolated areas. Initially, these areas cause the prostate to soften and alleviate some of the pressure that is causing a urine blockage. The body’s immune system gradually reabsorbs the dead tissue and replaces it with a scar. Slowly the scar tissue retracts, causing the prostate to shrink. Over a period of six months, the prostate can shrink by 20-40% resulting in less frequent and improved urination.
One of the best things about prostate artery embolization is the speedy recovery time, usually 1-2 days. You need to refrain from physical activities that could cause direct trauma to the puncture site for a couple of days such as heavy lifting but apart from that, you can return to normal activities the very next day.
And, did we mention the extremely high success rate of PAE? More than ninety percent of men saw an improvement in their condition within one year. What’s more, most patients continue to have success for 3 or more years after their treatment. But that’s not all. Other life benefits after prostate artery embolization include
- No more catheters
- Improved urinary symptoms
- Enhanced sexual function
- Minimal pain and quick recovery
- A much better quality of life
Does prostate artery embolization pose any risks
Any risks associated with PAE are relatively mild and include:
- bladder spasm
- blood in the stool, semen or urine
- a leak of blood to the puncture site; and
- infection in the prostate or puncture site.
All of these slight risks may resolve themselves or can be easily treated with a short course of medication.
What about possible side effects of prostate artery embolization?
You may experience mild side effects which include nausea or vomiting, frequent or painful urination, fever or pelvic pain but these symptoms should disappear in a few days.
Find out more
Hopefully, this post has answered all of your questions relating to prostate artery embolization. If you suffer from BPH and it’s affecting your daily life, why not schedule a consultation with the highly experienced team at MINT to see if you qualify as a candidate for prostate artery embolization? We’re here to help.