When Bob turned 57, he started to experience the tell-tale signs of an enlarged prostate – frequent urination, a weakened urine stream, and an inability to fully empty his bladder. He was hesitant to undergo traditional surgical treatment to obtain relief as he had concerns about the long recovery times and sexual dysfunction that could result from these procedures.
But when Bob’s urologist told him about a minimally invasive treatment option called prostate artery embolization (PAE), he was eager to learn more about PAE benefits. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at Bob’s experience with PAE and the benefits it provides.
If you are suffering from symptoms like those experienced by Bob due to an enlarged prostate, you owe it to yourself to explore all your options. Take our FREE 3-Minute Quiz to determine your International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) and see if you’re eligible for PAE. You can also contact us at our Prostate Specialists of Miami clinic at 786-500-5347 to schedule your consultation.
After experiencing months of interrupted sleep due to frequent urination at night, Bob made an appointment with a urologist to discuss his symptoms. After examining Bob and running some tests, the urologist diagnosed Bob with an enlarged prostate. An enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), is a common condition that affects many men as they age.
BPH occurs when the prostate gland, which is located between the bladder and the penis, grows in size and puts pressure on the urethra. This can cause symptoms such as frequent urination, weak urine flow, and urinary urgency, which Bob experienced throughout the night.
Referral to Interventional Radiologist
Bob’s urologist referred him to an interventional radiologist who specialized in PAE. Workup for PAE began with a clinic visit and evaluation.
The interventional radiologist reviewed Bob’s medical history and ran some additional tests. He explained the PAE procedure in detail and answered any questions Bob had to ensure he was a good candidate for PAE.
Who Is a Good Candidate for PAE?
Bob learned that men who have been diagnosed with BPH and experience symptoms that are not controlled well by medications and are unable or do not want to undergo invasive surgical treatments might be good candidates for PAE.
An interventional radiologist will assess your medical history, symptoms, and overall health to determine if PAE is a good option.
Benefits of PAE for BPH
Bob learned there were several PAE benefits.
- Minimally Invasive: PAE is performed through a small puncture in the groin and does not require an incision or general anesthesia, which reduces the risk of complications and promotes quicker recovery.
- Effective: PAE has been shown to effectively reduce the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, including urinary frequency, urgency, and nighttime awakenings.
- Rapid Relief: Unlike surgery, which often requires several weeks to months for full recovery, patients typically experience rapid improvement of symptoms within a few days to a couple of weeks following PAE.
- No Major Lifestyle Changes: PAE does not require major lifestyle changes, and patients can return to normal activities within a few days following the procedure.
- Preserves Sexual Function: Unlike some surgical options, PAE does not involve prostate removal and therefore does not typically result in impotence or other sexual dysfunctions.
- Outpatient Procedure: PAE is performed on an outpatient basis, allowing patients to return home the same day without an overnight hospital stay.
Where Is PAE Performed?
PAE is performed in an outpatient interventional radiology suite or radiology suite within a hospital or clinic by an experienced and skilled interventional radiologist. This subspecialty of radiology utilizes imaging guidance to perform the procedure.
PAE is usually performed under local anesthesia, which numbs the area, or sedation, which helps you relax during the procedure. You’ll be awake during the procedure but shouldn’t feel discomfort.
What to Expect
Here’s what you can expect on the day of your PAE procedure:
- Preparation: Before the procedure, you’ll be given a sedative to help you relax. The procedure is also done under local anesthesia.
- Accessing the Arteries: Your interventional radiologist will insert a small catheter (a thin, flexible tube) into an artery in your groin and guide it to the arteries that supply blood to the prostate gland. An arteriogram (an X-ray in which dye is injected into the blood vessels) is done to map the blood vessels feeding your prostate.
- Embolization: Tiny round microspheres (particles) are injected through the catheter and into the blood vessels that feed your prostate to reduce its blood supply.
- Removal of the Catheter: The interventional radiologist will move the catheter to treat the other side of your prostate, repeating the steps above. After the embolization is complete, the catheter is removed, and the puncture site is closed with a bandage.
How Long Does PAE Take?
The procedure can take anywhere from one to three hours, depending on the location and size of the prostatic arteries. After the procedure, you’ll spend time in recovery and be discharged later that day.
After your PAE procedure, you may experience some discomfort or pain, but this should subside within a few days. You’ll need to rest and avoid strenuous activity, but you’ll be able to return to your normal routine in a few days. Over the following weeks, the prostate, now deprived of its blood supply, begins to shrink. As the prostate shrinks, urination improves.
Bob was pleasantly surprised that he could return to his daily routine just a few days after the procedure. He could go back to work, exercise, and even resume sexual activity much faster than he expected. This was a big win for Bob, who had been worried about being unable to live his life fully while recovering from the procedure.
Limitations of PAE for BPH
Some patients may not experience improvement after the PAE procedure. Improvement depends on the presence of intact bladder function for normal urination to occur. Also, the prostatic artery embolization procedure is technically challenging and requires navigating into small prostatic arteries. In some cases, atherosclerosis may make those arteries very difficult or impossible to access.
Risks and Side Effects
Like any medical procedure, PAE carries some risks and side effects. However, the risks are generally low, and the procedure is considered safe for most patients. Some of the most common side effects include:
- Urinary Incontinence: Some patients may experience temporary urinary incontinence after the procedure. This is usually mild and resolves on its own within a few days.
- Urinary Tract Infections: PAE can increase the risk of urinary tract infections, so drinking plenty of fluids and emptying your bladder regularly after the procedure is essential.
- Blood in Urine: Some patients may experience blood in their urine after the procedure, but this is usually minor and resolves on its own within a few days.
- Pain or Discomfort: Some patients may experience mild discomfort or pain in the lower abdomen after the procedure. This is usually mild and can be managed with pain medication.
Is PAE Right for You?
PAE offers a minimally invasive way of treating BPH without surgery and can fill the gap between medication and surgical therapy. PAE also has a high rate of success. A recent study indicated that 78% of men experienced relief in the first six months. Unlike other treatments that may have unwanted sexual side effects, PAE does not affect sexual performance.
It’s worth noting that PAE is not a cure for BPH and that some patients may require additional treatment. Additionally, individual results may vary, so discuss PAE’s potential benefits and risks with your healthcare provider. However, the evidence indicates that PAE is a highly effective treatment option for many men with BPH.
Suffering from an Enlarged Prostate? Contact a Prostate Specialist Today
Have you been searching online for a doctor who performs “prostate artery embolization near me” to help you with your BPH symptoms? At Prostate Specialists of Miami, we offer safe, minimally invasive treatment options like PAE to resolve BPH and improve your quality of life. When you choose Prostate Specialists of Miami, you’ll meet our lead physician, Interventional Radiologist Dr. Adam S. Gropper. Dr. Gropper has over 20 years of experience treating venous and vascular disorders, including BPH.
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