As men get older, their prostate grows. This is a fact of life. Usually, it isn´t a problem, but some men will require treatment to reduce its size, which may mean surgery.
The prostate is a male reproductive system gland underneath the bladder and surrounding part of the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder). It´s about the size of a walnut, but as men get older, it sometimes gets too big, squeezing the urethra and causing urination problems. This is a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Benign means it´s not cancerous.
The symptoms include difficulty starting to urinate, incomplete emptying of the bladder, a weak urine stream and straining when beginning to urinate. These can seriously affect someone´s quality of life and if not treated, can cause other problems. These include kidney, bladder and urinary tract infections.
Who Is At Risk Of BPH?
The causes of the natural swelling of the prostate are unknown but among those at risk of an enlarged gland are:
- Men over the age of 40.
- Men with a family history of BPH.
- Diabetics and patients who are taking some kinds of medications.
- Men who are obese or who live an unhealthy lifestyle.
At the Midwest Institute for Non-surgical Therapy (MINT), we offer prostate artery embolization (PAE) to men suffering from the effects of BPH. This minimally invasive procedure is performed on an outpatient basis and is widely regarded as one of the safest prostate treatments available.
PAE is an alternative to surgery for the treatment of an enlarged prostate. During the procedure, an interventional radiologist uses X-ray imagery to guide a catheter to the small arteries that supply blood to the prostate. Once in place, tiny particles are released into the blood vessels, safely blocking them. This restricts the amount of blood that gets to the prostate. Starved of its usual blood supply, the gland eventually shrinks, bringing symptom relief.
The procedure is non-surgical, and patients are given a local, not a general anesthetic.
What Are The Benefits Of PAE?
- It´s less invasive than other treatments. The most common surgical treatment for BPH is transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). It involves removing part of the prostate to create a channel to relieve pressure on the urethra.
- Usually, no hospital stay is required. On the other hand, TURP requires a few nights in a hospital.
- Recovery times are faster than if surgery had been performed. Some patients may need up to a couple of weeks, while others return to their normal routines after 3 or 4 days. TURP recovery times can be several weeks.
- There is no impact on ejaculatory function.
- Lower risk of side effects. Among the possible side effects of TURP are loss of sexual function and fertility.
- Patients have a significantly better quality of life following treatment.
Success Rate of PAE
PAE is a highly successful procedure, with up to 90% of patients enjoying symptom relief. This is backed up by numerous studies that have looked at the efficacy of the treatment. These include:
A study of 1,550 patients assessed before PAE, and one, six, and 12 months after the minimally invasive treatment, then yearly for up to 10 years.
In the first year following treatment, 88.1% experienced symptom relief.
From two to five years after the procedure, 85.1% experienced symptom relief.
From six to ten years post-treatment, the success rate was 76.8%.
Another study looked at the medium- and long-term effects of PAE in BPH 630 patients. They were evaluated every six months between 1 and 3 years after treatment and then yearly up to 6.5 years. The success rates were 81.9% (1 to 3 years) and 76.3% (3 to 6.5 years), with no reports of sexual dysfunction or urinary incontinence.
While PAE is a highly successful procedure, there are some potential side effects.
Bleeding: Some blood vessels may break during treatment, which can lead to bleeding.
Infection: The catheter used during the PAE procedure can introduce bacteria into the bloodstream, which may cause an infection.
Overall, there are fewer adverse events when compared to TURP.
Am I A Candidate For PAE?
With such a high success rate, greater numbers of men are seeking a PAE procedure. While medication is often the first form of treatment, you may be a candidate for prostate artery embolization if:
- You are experiencing adverse effects from medications. For example, allergies or intolerance.
- You don’t want or aren’t eligible for surgery and are looking for safe, minimally invasive alternatives.
- You are experiencing symptoms associated with BPH.
- Previous surgical procedures to treat your benign prostatic hyperplasia have been unsuccessful.
Note that if you are allergic to the contrast dye used in PAE or do not have functioning kidneys, you will not be eligible for the procedure.
During your initial PAE consultation, the doctor will determine whether you are a suitable candidate.
Treating Enlarged Prostates At MINT
At MINT, we can help you overcome the uncomfortable symptoms of an enlarged prostate. With PAE, we provide long-lasting outcomes that will improve your quality of life. We are the first and only outpatient center to offer PAE treatment for BPH in St. Louis.
If your life is being made uncomfortable by symptoms of an enlarged prostate and you would like to learn more about the benefits of prostate artery embolization, contact MINT today to schedule a consultation at pone of our 5 clinics, including the latest in Chicago, IL..