According to Dr. Joao Martins Pisco, lead author of a study presented on March 29, 2011 at the annual meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiology in Chicago, a new treatment called prostatic artery embolization (PAE) may be used in certain patients with prostates larger than 60 cubic centimeters and who have serious lower urinary tract symptoms and weakened urinary stream.
Enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostate hyperplasia, is a non-cancerous condition that affects millions of aging men. This condition occurs when the prostate gland slowly enlarges and presses on the uretha, which constricts the flow of urine. It is characterized by unpleasant symptoms including a weak or slow urine flow, a constant and urgent need to urinate, not being able to fully empty the bladder, and having to get up repeatedly at night to urinate.
The surgery that has generally been used to treat enlarged prostate, transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), is used for men whose prostates are smaller than 60 to 80 cubic centimeters. The procedure requires general anesthesia and a hospital stay.
In contrast, there is no size limitation for PAE, which requires only local anesthesia. Researchers say that the procedure lowers the risk of other side effects including blood loss and retrograde ejaculation, which happens when semen leaks into the bladder. PAE can also be an outpatient procedure.
According to the study, PAE helped the majority of 67 patients who received the treatment. Sixty-six of the men who had not responded to medications experienced improvements in symptoms and a reduction in prostate volume. After nine months, none of these men experienced sexual dysfunction, and a quarter continued to report improvements.
PAE, however, remains controversial and few doctors are trained in this procedure. Authors of the study reported that there was not a great an improvement in improved flow rate of urine in patients who underwent PAE, which would indicate the performance of the bladder and urethra, as those who underwent TURP.