Prostate enlargement, or Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy, is an extremely common, non-cancerous condition that causes urinary problems in men as they age. Traditional treatments for the condition may have unwanted side effects, such as sexual dysfunction. Left untreated, BPH may lead to urinary tract infections, bladder or kidney damage, bladder stones or incontinence.
Prostate artery embolization, or PAE, is a minimally invasive procedure that offers men an alternative to surgery. PAE shrinks the enlarged prostate, relieving symptoms without surgery or side effects like sexual dysfunction, incontinence (inability to control urination), retrograde ejaculation (ejaculation into the bladder) or bleeding. PAE is performed by a Vascular Interventional Radiologist, a board-certified specialist with expertise in treating enlarged prostate.
PAE begins with the insertion of a tiny tube, or catheter, in the artery in the wrist or groin. No incision is made. Instead, the catheter is inserted through a pinhole made in the skin, approximately the width of the tip of a pencil. Using specialized X-ray equipment, the physician passes an even smaller flexible catheter into each prostatic artery. Small inert spherical particles are injected into the arteries feeding the enlarged prostate, thereby starving the gland of oxygenated blood and causing it to shrink; this relieves pressure on the urethra and resolves urinary symptoms.
Once treated, the catheters are removed and a Band-Aid® is applied. The entire PAE treatment typically lasts 1-2 hours. Patients return home the same day. After a couple of days’ rest, patients can return to work and resume normal activities.
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