Benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, is an abnormal enlargement of the prostate gland. The prostate gland grows throughout a man’s lifetime, however, sometimes the growth is excessive and interferes with urinary flow. Obstructed urinary flow can cause significant symptoms and other complications.
Those most at risk for BPH are men over the age of 40. Nearly 60% of sufferers will experience significant symptoms by the age of 60, with rates increasing about 10% more for each decade of life thereafter. BPH is more common in men with a family history of prostate problems, as well as a history of diabetes and heart disease. Obesity can also be a contributing factor to the development of BPH.
One of the first and most noticeable symptoms a patient with BPH will experience is urinary issues. The frequent or urgent need to urinate during the day and increased frequency of night time urination are common symptoms. Difficulty starting urination, a weak stream, hesitancy in starting to initiate urination and inability to completely empty the bladder can also affect those suffering from BPH. These symptoms can markedly affect a man’s quality of life.
If symptoms are ignored and this condition progresses, more significant complications can occur. Bladder stones can result from an inability to empty the bladder, and contribute to blood in the urine and bladder infections. Urinary tract infections can also occur as a result of not fully emptying one’s bladder. If the prostate grows large enough, it can even cause an inability to urinate all together, known as urinary retention.
Traditional treatments include medications and prostate surgeries. Many patients may be taking or have tried multiple medications. But despite medication, symptoms can progress over time. Urologists can offer multiple surgical (TURP, simple prostatectomy, etc.) and procedural (Urolift, Rezum, Greenlight laser, HoLEP, etc.) treatment options. But many men do not want to have those options for a variety of reasons including prolonged recovery, hospitalization, risk of sexual side effects and wish to avoid having a procedure done through the penis.
Prostate artery embolization, or PAE, is a minimally invasive procedure designed to help relieve the symptoms caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia. This is done by blocking the blood vessels that are feeding the prostate causing the prostate to abnormally enlarge. Once these blood vessels are blocked, the prostate can return to a healthier size, and the patient will experience significant symptom relief.