Depending on what sort of practice you work in as a certified medical assistant, you may interact with men who suffer from an enlarged prostate.
A relatively common but debilitating condition, an enlarged prostate can cause side effects such as painful or infrequent urination, urgent need to go to the bathroom or a lack of ability to completely empty the bladder when urinating.
While there are a number of treatments for men who find themselves with this condition, it’s important to note that many of them have been known to cause a host of unpleasant symptoms. According to Healthline, a new study of an existing treatment, prostate artery embolization, seems to suggest that it can reduce side effects when compared to other treatment methods.1
New research on prostate artery embolization was presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology’s Annual Scientific Meeting. Effectively, the treatment involves the insertion of a small catheter into a man’s femoral artery.2 From there, doctors use imaging technology to guide the camera through the artery so that its ends can be positioned on either side of the enlarged prostate.
The affected area is fed by a network of specific veins and arteries, which are coated with a sort of microscopic sphere in order to reduce or block blood flow to the area, according to the SIR. Once blood flow has been reduced or stopped entirely, the gland shrinks accordingly, which can reduce pressure on the male urethra and bladder, allowing freedom from the traditional urination problems associated with an enlarged prostate.
Reduction in Undesirable Effects
The treatment is not new, by any means, as it has been available to men with this condition for some time. Still, it has fallen by the wayside in favor of other common treatments, such as surgical removal of the affected parts of the prostate. This treatment offers more convenience to the patient in a number of regards, not the least of which being a considerable reduction in recovery time and pain.
Target Demographics and Success Rates
It’s important to note that prostate artery embolization may not be for everyone. The procedure is targeted at men who suffer from an enlarged prostate gland, but not those whose enlargement is due to prostate cancer or other disease. Even if the patient in question has a non-cancerous enlarged prostate, there is another stringent set of requirements that they must meet in order to qualify as a candidate for the procedure.
Men whose prostate enlargement measures less than 50 cubic centimeters or larger than 80 cubic centimeters in total size are prime candidates for the embolization, according to the SIR. Men whose prostate enlargement is both benign and falls in between those two measurements would be eligible for the procedure, but might be treated more effectively through traditional methods.
All demographics measured through clinical trials reacted well to the procedure. The SIR has also reported that a total of 96 percent of these trials were a success three months after their treatment. These patients indicated an increase in their urinary function without a reduction in their erectile or sexual ability.
While only time will tell whether or not prostate artery embolization becomes the forefront of treatment for benign enlarged prostates, it certainly has the potential to alter the current landscape of treatment.
1) Radcliffe, Shawn, Healthline, ‘New Treatment for Enlarged Prostate Shows Fewer Side Effects,’ 3/2/2015 http://www.healthline.com/health-news/treatment-for-enlarged-prostate-shows-fewer-side-effects-030215#2
2) Verrillo, Maryann, Society of Interventional Radiology, ‘Interventional Radiology Offers New Treatment for Enlarged Prostates,’ 3/2/2015, http://www.sirweb.org/news/newsPDF/Release_ASM15_PAE298_21615_final.pdf