UCSD Health offers new procedure for enlarged prostate

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SAN DIEGO — UC San Diego Health Monday touted a new treatment option for men with an enlarged prostate that is minimally invasive, less expensive, less painful and doesn’t require a hospital stay.

UCSD Health launched a clinical trial in March 2017, making it one of California’s first medical centers to offer prostate artery embolization, according to the provider. The procedure, which has been available for several years in Europe as a treatment option for benign prostatic hyperplasia, was only recently approved by the FDA for use in the United States.

Using an X-ray, an interventional radiologist inserts a small catheter into an upper thigh or wrist artery. The catheter is threaded into arteries supplying the prostate, and small particles are injected to partially block the blood flow to the prostate, which reduces its size.

UCSD Health physicians have treated nearly 20 patients with the procedure.

“We have seen excellent results with the patients we have treated so far,” said Alexander Norbash, chair of radiology at UCSD’s School of Medicine. “The benefits of PAE allow patients to recover at home and return more quickly to normal activities. Symptoms may start to improve as early as the first week after treatment.”

Candidates for the option are typically 50 to 85 years old, have urinary tract symptoms, have unsuccessfully tried medications within the last six months and have undergone assessment for prostate cancer risk.

Alternatives to prostate artery embolization often involve surgery. Transurethral resection of the prostate is considered the “gold standard” for enlarged prostate treatment, according to UCSD Health, but the procedure requires full anesthesia, an overnight hospital stay and three to six weeks of recovery. It’s also associated with sexual side effects.

Enlarged prostates affect at least half of men over 60 years of age. Symptoms include a frequent urge to urinate, especially at night; urine leakage; a weak urine stream and trouble beginning urination. An enlarged prostate can cause other problems if untreated, including kidney, bladder and urinary tract infections.

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