Prostatic Artery Embolization
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The prostate gland is located just below the bladder and surrounds the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine and semen out of the body. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is an enlargement of the prostate gland. BPH is not cancer. It cannot spread, and it does not increase your risk of prostate cancer.
BPH is quite common and prevalence increases with age. More than 50% of all men in their 60s and as many as 90% over the age of 70 have some symptoms of BPH. This condition causes lower urinary tract symptoms such as urinary frequency, incomplete emptying of the bladder, inability to urinate, pain with urination, urinary incontinence, etc.
Prostate artery embolization (PAE) is a minimally invasive treatment that can help improve symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate. The procedure is performed by an interventional radiologist, a doctor who uses X-ray and other imaging technology to see inside the body and treat various conditions through our blood vessels, without the need for surgery.
During a PAE, you are given a medication to help you relax. You will remain awake and comfortable throughout the procedure. The interventional radiologist uses a slender, flexible tube (catheter) to inject tiny particles (embolic agents) the size of a grain of sand into the prostate arteries, which supply blood to the enlarged prostate. This reduces the flow of blood through these vessels and causes the prostate to shrink.
Patients typically experience relief within days of the procedure as the prostate shrinks. This relieves the pressure on the urethra, and improves urinary tract symptoms.
Risks Associated with PAE
As with any medical procedure, there are some risks associated with PAE. Most patients experience mild to moderate “post-embolic syndrome” which can include a low grade fever, burning during urination, frequent urination or discomfort in the prostate or rectal area. Non-targeted embolization, bruising at the catheter insertion site, and skin burns from prolonged fluoroscopy can also occur.
After PAE, 90% of patients drop at least one symptom category from severe to moderate or moderate to mild. Most patients also report an improvement in their quality of life and a decrease in prostate size.
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