If you are struggling with an enlarged prostate, you aren’t alone. Throughout your life, your prostate gland grows, doubling in size at puberty and growing continually through old age.
As a result, at least 50% of men deal with the signs of an enlarged prostate by 60, and by 80, that number exceeds 90%. When the prostate grows too large and interferes with bodily functions, it’s called benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH).
Our team of board-certified interventional radiologists at Alate Health in Houston, Texas, provides treatment and care for BPH. We use minimally invasive prostate artery embolization (PAE), the safest and most effective treatment for this condition.
Take a moment to learn more about PAE and how this safe and effective treatment might suit you.
Understanding enlarged prostates
BPH is a condition that develops when the prostate grows too large. The prostate surrounds your urethra and is located underneath your bladder, so BPH is often the culprit of frustrating and painful symptoms such as:
- Slow urine stream
- Pain while urinating or after ejaculation
- Difficulty starting to urinate
- Dribbling urine after visiting the bathroom
- Strong and frequent urge to urinate
- Inability to empty the bladder
- Increased risk of UTIs
- Changes in the odor or color of urine
Untreated BPH can go on to block the urethra, causing more severe issues. These include kidney damage, bladder stones and infections, and complete blockage of your urethra.
About prostate artery embolization (PAE)
PAE restricts the blood supply to the prostate gland, causing it to shrink. It does this by using X-ray technology and microscopic beads called microspheres. Once the prostate gland begins to shrink, pressure is eased on your urethra and bladder, ending frustrating symptoms.
An outpatient procedure, PAE, is performed under local anesthesia and only lasts a few hours. To access the blood vessel, your Alate Health provider makes a small incision, then uses X-ray imaging to place the microspheres.
After you return home the same day, you’ll only need a day or so of rest before returning to work and other regular activities. After a few weeks, the prostate gland shrinks, and urine will begin to flow normally again.
Safety of PAE
Though PAE is considered a safe procedure overall, it is a surgery with the same risks as any operation. Thus, certain factors must be considered when it comes to PAE.
PAE is never the first treatment method when it comes to BPH. It is usually recommended for patients with moderate to severe symptoms who have not responded to other methods. Evaluations, including imaging studies, are necessary before your provider recommends PAE.
Imaging studies help your provider determine any variations in the anatomy of your prostate and if there will be any potential issues or challenges during the procedure. In addition, your age and overall health play into your eligibility for PAE and if it will be a safe treatment option.
Effectiveness of PAE
PAE has a very high success rate, with over 90% of men experiencing dramatic improvements in their BPH symptoms within a year. Over the next three or so years, most patients continue to enjoy symptom relief.
Your prostate will take a few weeks to shrink, but you can expect benefits such as:
- Less urinary symptoms
- Improved sexual function
- Better quality of life
- No need for a catheter
On top of that, you can expect a quick recovery of 1-2 days and receive other BPH treatments if needed.
Candidates for PAE
There are many treatments for BPH, and determining the right one for you depends on several factors. These include the size of your prostate, the symptoms you experience, your overall health, and your age. Seeing a BPH specialist is essential for learning which treatment best suits your unique needs.
In mild cases of BPH, medication or “watching waiting” may be the only necessary treatments. However, severe cases might require surgery. A good candidate for PAE may have the following:
- Medications are not enough to control BPH
- Preference for minimally invasive treatment rather than surgery
- The prostate has grown too large for other treatments to be effective
- BPH surgery has not provided enough relief
You may not be eligible for PAE if you have certain conditions. If you have extensive kidney damage or disease or are allergic to contrast dye, PAE is not the proper BPH treatment for you.
If you are ready to learn more about PAE and this treatment method might suit you, schedule an appointment online or over the phone with a provider at Alate Health in Houston, Texas, today.