Men who need treatment for an enlarged prostate may soon have a new
non-surgical option, a small, early study suggests.
Called prostatic artery embolization (PAE), the technique uses a catheter
threaded into an artery in the leg. The catheter is guided to the artery that
supplies blood to the prostate. Then, tiny beads are injected into the artery,
which temporarily block the blood supply to the prostate.
The temporary loss of blood supply causes the prostate to shrink, relieving
symptoms, according to study lead author Dr Sandeep Bagla. What's more, the new
treatment doesn't appear to have the same risk of serious complications, such as
incontinence and impotence, that often accompany enlarged prostate
Procedure to be more available soon
"This is fantastic news for the average man with benign prostatic
hyperplasia. Many men decline current treatments because of the risks. But, for
the average man, PAE is a no-brainer," said Bagla, an interventional radiologist
at Inova Alexandria Hospital, in Virginia.
The procedure has only been available as part of Bagla's trial until
recently, but he said some interventional radiologists have started doing
prostatic artery embolisation, and he expects the procedure will become more
widely available by the end of the year.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia is the medical term for an enlarged prostate. An
enlarged prostate is very common as men get older.
As many as half of all men in their 60s will have an enlarged prostate,
according to the US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Diseases (NIDDK). By the time men are in their 70s and 80s, up to 90% have
benign prostatic hyperplasia, according to the NIDDK.
Some men experience no symptoms, while others may feel the need to urinate
frequently, but they have a weak urinary stream, the NIDDK says.
There are a number of treatments available for benign prostatic hyperplasia,
including medications and surgery.
Bagla said that interventional radiologists in Europe and South America have
been using prostatic artery embolization, and that the current study is the
first in the United States to test the procedure.
He and his colleagues hope to treat a total of 30 patients, but they're
reporting on the results from the first 18 patients at the annual meeting of
Society of Interventional Radiology, in New Orleans.
The data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a
For the study, the average age of the patients who underwent prostatic artery
embolization was 67 years. None of the men had to be admitted to the hospital
after the procedure.
94% of the men (17 of 18) had a significant decrease in their symptoms one
month after surgery. And, none reported any major complications following the
Bagla said the exact cost of the new procedure is difficult to estimate right
now, but prostatic artery embolization will be cheaper than most of the
currently used procedures, he said, because there's no need for an operating
room and overnight hospital stays. In addition, he said, because the new
procedure doesn't appear to cause complications, that will save health care
dollars as well.
"This may become part of the armamentarium of treatments that can be offered
for [benign prostatic hyperplasia]," said Dr Art Rastinehad, director of
interventional urologic oncology at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde
Park, NY. He was not involved with the new study.
"This was a small series and a limited study to draw significant conclusions
from. But, it's very exciting to see it evaluated and moving forward," he
Learn more about prostate enlargement from the US
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
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