A railroad conductor for 32 years, John M spent a lot of time sitting. When his enlarged prostate started to cause bothersome urinary symptoms, he saw Dr. Douglas Grier of Sound Urological Associates in Edmonds, Washington, who treated him with a novel medical technology that has changed – and significantly improved – his quality of life. That treatment is called a prostatic urethral lift – a minimally-invasive procedure that is done in a doctor’s office with very little discomfort, minimal downtime and few side effects.
BPH: COMMON AND PROBLEMATIC
An enlarged prostate – also called benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH – is a common condition. One in four men experience symptoms of BPH by age 55, and that rate increases to 90 percent in men over age 70.
The prostate, which is responsible for making semen, is a walnutsized gland just below a man’s bladder. The urethra, which carries urine from the bladder, passes through the prostate. When the gland becomes enlarged – which is common as men age – it can squeeze the urethra and interfere with the flow of urine.
SIMPLE PROCEDURE, FAST RECOVERY
In the past, BPH treatments included surgery to remove excess prostate tissue as well as daily medications, all coming with a risk of undesirable side effects including problems with sexual function. For John, medication “helped with the symptoms, but over the years it ceased to be as effective as it once was,” he recalled.
“A common belief in men with BPH is that if medication doesn’t work, the only treatment available is surgery, and that surgery is going to affect their erections and sexual function and is going to be painful,” Dr. Grier explained. “The prostatic urethral lift is a new technique for BPH treatment that has a positive outcome with very little downside, and recovery can be quick.”
During the procedure, a special delivery device is inserted through the urethra, which is numbed with medication, and tiny implants that push the sides of the prostate apart are placed. This holds the enlarged prostate tissue out of the way so it no longer blocks the urethra.
After the procedure, most men are back to their usual activities in a day or two. “The recovery itself was not what I expected. It was far better than that,” John recalled.
And the results, John said, have been all that he could have hoped for. “One of the greatest improvements has been that I can go shopping, and I don’t have to seek out the bathroom when I get to where I’m going to shop or have to remember to use the bathroom before I leave. It’s not a constant search anymore to find that relief.”
Alternative medtech treatment options include laser surgery, which is associated with less chance of severe blood loss, same day surgery, and faster recovery time in typical cases.