Relief for Frequent Urination in Men
More than half of men over the age of 50 experience the discomfort and frustration of an enlarged prostate. Fortunately, there are many treatment options for this condition, including a minimally invasive angiographic procedure called prostate artery embolization.
“Prostate artery embolization involves selectively blocking blood vessels to control unwanted tissue enlargement,” said Vinit Khanna, MD, a physician specializing in Radiology at Abington - Jefferson Health. “It focuses on the super-selective blockage of prostate arteries and has shown great results.”
What is the Prostate?
Though a healthy prostate weighs only an ounce, it has a considerable impact on the male reproductive and urinary systems. The gland stretches around the urethra and contributes to reproduction by initiating ejaculation and protecting the genetic code within sperm.
The prostate is able to perform these functions because it is surrounded by muscular fibers fed by male hormones and a system of tiny arteries. However, this structure also enables it to continually grow throughout a man’s adult life.
Identifying an Enlarged Prostate
If this growth extends too far, the prostate will close around the urethra, restricting urination. It can also lead to:
- Frequent urination
- Feelings of urgency
- An inability to start urinating
- Leaking after urination
- A weak stream
- Incomplete emptying of the bladder
“An enlarged prostate can cause patients to get up to go to the bathroom several times per night, interrupting sleep and having a negative overall impact on quality of life,” said Dr. Khanna.
To confirm an enlarged prostate diagnosis, your doctor will first want to rule out bladder issues, including cancers of the prostate or bladder.
Before advanced intervention like prostate artery embolization is considered, physicians will prescribe one of the many medications available to treat an enlarged prostate. However, if these treatments fail to resolve symptoms after three months or create unwanted side effects, men may qualify for more advanced treatment options.
When creating an advanced treatment plan, the size of the prostate matters. Doctors will likely recommend a CT scan or ultrasound to determine the size.
“The larger the prostate, the more difficult it is to treat through surgical measures,” said Dr. Khanna. In fact, before the advent of prostate artery embolization, patients with a very large prostate were forced to leave it alone or have it removed.
“And that is a big procedure,” he added.
Prostate Artery Embolization
An angiographic procedure, prostate artery embolization uses x-ray guidance to reach the tiny arteries serving the prostate and then blocks them with particles.
“We are extremely selective when placing the particles, decreasing the blood supply to the prostate and allowing it to shrink over time,” said Dr. Khanna. “This is an effective alternative to surgery, especially for older patients who require a minimally invasive option.”
Prostate artery embolization is available at Abington - Lansdale Hospital and Abington Hospital. The procedure is outpatient and usually takes three to four hours, but an overnight stay for observation may be necessary. Dr. Khanna also warns that the first week can be challenging, as symptoms may worsen for a short period of time.
“One week after the procedure, side effects will clear and the patient can expect to be where they were before,” said Dr. Khanna. “But at the end of the first month, most patients notice a significant improvement.” This improvement will continue for three to six months following the procedure before reaching a new baseline.
“That said, prostate enlargement is a hormonal condition,” said Dr. Khanna, “So no matter the treatment, your body will keep acting on the prostate and symptoms may return over time.” Studies show significant improvement can last at least six years before symptoms return.
Talk to Your Doctor
Prostate artery embolization started being used in the United States about eight years ago. Other options for treating urinary issues in men include The UroLift System and transurethral resection of the prostate.
The UroLift System is a minimally invasive procedure that lifts and holds the enlarged prostate tissue in order to prevent it from blocking the urethra. A transurethral resection of the prostate is a surgical procedure that removes the excess prostate tissue that blocks urine flow.
Talk with your doctor to learn more about options for treating an enlarged prostate. To schedule an appointment with an Abington - Jefferson Health physician, call 215-481-MEDI (6634) or visit JeffersonHealth.org/AbingtonScheduleOnline.