Prostate Artery Embolization for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

istock 954914942 1 Statistics indicate that more than half of men in their sixties have an enlarged prostate. This condition, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, BPH, affects approximately 90 percent of men aged 70 to 89. With these numbers, it is not surprising to hear that BPH is the most common benign abnormal tissue growth in men. Scientific research has shown that the enlargement of the prostate leads to pressure on the urethra and subsequent impairment in urine flow. As the prostate grows larger, a man may experience a number of uncomfortable symptoms. These include:

  • Urinary incontinence ranging from minor accidental leakage to complete loss of bladder control. 
  • Incomplete bladder emptying.
  • Weak urine stream.
  • Increased urination at nighttime (nocturia).

Treating Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

Surgery may be needed if the symptoms of BPH are severe enough to diminish a man’s quality of life. The most common BPH surgery is transurethral resection of the prostate, TURP. In this procedure, which may require general anesthesia, a surgeon removes the parts of the prostate that are pressing on the urethra. To do this, the surgeon inserts a scope through the urethra. One of the concerning potential side effects of this procedure is retrograde ejaculation, in which, upon ejaculation, semen would enter the bladder instead of exiting the urethra and penis. There is also a risk of urinary incontinence and impotence related to this procedure. 

At Vascular Institute of Virginia, we perform Prostatic Artery Embolization to correct the symptoms of BPH. Steps to this minimally-invasive procedure include:

  • We administer conscious IV sedation to achieve total comfort and relaxation throughout the brief treatment. 
  • The provider inserts a catheter, a thin, hollow tube with a balloon at the tip, into the urethra. This is progressed to the bladder to provide an anatomical reference point.
  • A catheter is inserted into an artery in the groin or wrist and progressed to the vessels that supply blood to the prostate. 
  • The vessels are mapped using x-ray imaging and contrast dye (arteriogram). 
  • Tiny particles are injected into these vessels to reduce blood supply.
  • These steps may be repeated to treat each side of the prostate. 
  • The catheter is removed, leaving particles in place. With reduced blood supply, the prostate will shrink over time. 
  • Patients cannot drive for 24 hours after this procedure. Someone must drive them to their appointment and see them safely home. 

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia may be a common condition but it is not one that should impair quality of life. Call 703-763-5224 to schedule a consultation at the Vascular Institute of Virginia in Woodbridge or Fredericksburg.

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