Scientists have announced what they are calling a potential “breakthrough” in the non-surgical treatment of men with an enlarged prostate.
The advance – involving the implantation of tiny beads that block blood flow to men's enlarged prostate glands to shrink them – was reported by a team of researchers from the University of São Paulo in Brazil at the Society of Interventional Radiology's 37th Annual Scientific Meeting in San Francisco.
Lead researcher Dr. Francisco Cesar Carnevale said the study found the minimally invasive option to surgery offers patients “a chance at getting their lives back" by relieving urinary symptoms without the nasty side effects that sometimes accompany prostate surgery.
"Having an enlarged prostate is very common in many men over the age of 50,” Carnevale noted, “and these new findings provide hope for those who might not be candidates for transurethral resection of the prostate, or TURP — and may allow them to avoid serious complications that sometime result from surgery, such as impotence, retrograde ejaculation and urinary incontinence.”
As men age, many develop a noncancerous condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, that can cause urinary and bladder problems. About 250,000 men have surgery to address BPH. But the new treatment, performed in an outpatient facility, offers an alternative.
The technique involves using a catheter to deliver tiny beads to block blood flow to the prostate, which reduces its size and releases pressure on the urethra.
Carnevale’s team tested the procedure on 11 men and found it helped virtually all of them to one degree or other. “All of those treated also reported a high degree of satisfaction and increased quality of life after the treatment,” researchers said.