Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), as is medically termed, is a condition in which the prostate gland is enlarged although it isn’t cancerous. This condition occurs usually in men over the age of 60 and the percentage of men having it at the age of 70, is up to 30%.
The traditional procedure for treating prostatic hyperplasia is the surgical removal of the prostate through the urethra or penis. However, researchers have discovered a new, less invasive and risky, treatment option, according to a study presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology’s (SIR’s) Annual Scientific Meeting.
The researchers of the study found that, using an interventional radiology treatment known as prostate artery embolization (PAE), doctors were able to improve patient symptoms, regardless of the size of the enlarged prostate before the treatment.
“As health care moves toward more patient-centred care, it’s critical that interventional radiologists, in collaboration with urologists, are able to provide BPH patients with a relatively painless, outpatient procedure,” said Sandeep Bagla, M.D., an interventional radiologist at Inova Alexandria Hospital in Virginia, who led the research.
“This innovative treatment offers less risk, less pain and less recovery time than traditional surgery, and we are hopeful that further research will confirm it to be an effective therapy for BPH,” Dr Bagla added.
78 patients participated in the study and underwent prostate artery embolization for BPH. Patients were divided into three different groups based on the size of the enlarged prostate: the first group included patients with less than 50 cubic centimetres, the second group included patients with 50–80 cubic centimetres and the third group patients with greater than 80 cubic centimetres.
Dr Bagla and his team examining the results evaluated the effectiveness of PAE treatment in these patients at one, three and six months after the treatment.
96% percent of these cases, namely for 75 out of 78 patients, were considered technically successful, with both blood vessels leading to the enlarged prostate blocked by PAE treatment. Additionally, in all three patient groups, the patients’ symptoms as well as their quality of life were improved, as measured by the American Urological Association Symptom Index. The researchers also found, using the International Index of Erectile Function, that patients didn’t report any changes in their sexual function. The most important result, however, is that this new treatment has no side effects in comparison with the current surgical treatments.
Regarding the low rate of side effects of the treatment, this occurs on the fact that PAE procedure is being carried out via the femoral artery, namely the thigh’s artery, and not through the urethra or the penis as other treatments. In fact, in prostate artery embolization, a catheter is inserted into the femoral artery and guided to the prostate artery on both sides of the enlarged gland. Once positioned next to the prostate, microscopic spheres are delivered to block blood flow, causing the prostate to shrink.¹
Lastly, although the results of the study were extremely promising, Dr Bagla added that more research is necessary in order to evaluate the treatment’s efficacy, in terms of a longer period of time.
Dr Franklin Kuehhas, urologist at the London Andrology Institute, commenting on this new treatment said: “This new surgical procedure could lead to a very promising, new, treatment option for treating prostate hyperplasia, which is a condition affecting half of men between 60 and 70 years-old. What’s more important is that this treatment is better for patients as it is less invasive and has no side effects, as the authors declared. We are looking forward to more research results.”
This article is based on the study published at Society of Interventional Radiology.