Vascular and Interventional Associates, physicians trained in minimally invasive medical procedures for patients in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati, is offering a new treatment for men suffering from lower urinary tract symptoms caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), more commonly referred to as an enlarged prostate.
It’s an alternative to traditional, more invasive, and risky surgical options. The procedure is called prostatic artery embolization, or PAE.
“PAE reduces the blood supply to the prostate so that it will shrink,” said Dr. Ben Tritle, the Cleveland clinic-trained physician who brought the innovative procedure to this area. “It’s a relatively new procedure in the U.S., about ten years old. It’s more prominent in big cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. But, as far as I know, we are the only ones performing the procedure locally.”
What is PAE
An interventional radiologist performs PAE, an outpatient procedure that takes two to three hours, with patients going home the same day.
During the PAE procedure, the interventional radiologist uses image guidance to locate the small, one-millimeter-wide blood vessels that feed the prostate. Once the vessels are located, tiny beads are injected through a tiny catheter placed through the femoral artery at the groin. These beads, about the size of a grain of sand, float downstream to the prostate to form a barrier and decrease blood flow to the prostate.
In the weeks and months following PAE, the prostate relaxes and shrinks, relieving the obstructive symptoms.
Attracting patients from across the state
Paul Holliger, a 72-year-old semi-retired network engineer and real estate investor, made the two-hour trek from Louisville to have the procedure.
“I wasn’t satisfied with the options given to me by my urologist,” Holliger stated. “None of the potential side effects appealed to me at all. TURP had the potential to leave me impotent, and I wasn’t a candidate for the UroLift procedure.”
TURP (transurethral resection of the prostate) is an invasive surgery that uses a scope inserted into the urethra through the tip of the penis to locate excess prostate tissue blocking urine flow. The surgeon then trims it away. UroLift uses tiny implants inserted through the urethra to lift or hold enlarged prostate tissue out of the way.
“None of these other procedures stop the prostate gland from growing, which is the root cause of the problem,” added Holliger. “PAE isn’t available in Louisville. The closest doctors I could find performing the procedure were either in Northern Kentucky, Indianapolis, or Nashville. That’s why I chose Vascular & Interventional Associates in Northern Kentucky.”
Symptoms of BPH or enlarged prostate
As men age, it is common for the prostate to grow. It’s estimated that 50% of men over 50 will experience BPH. Symptoms include frequent urges to urinate, waking up multiple times throughout the night, difficulty urinating, an inability to empty the bladder, and incontinence.
“Most men who come to us have been on more conservative treatments like medications for several years, but now those treatments are no longer effective,” said Dr. Tritle.
Holliger concurs. “It’s been a minimum of 8 years that I’ve been suffering from BPH, and that’s just as far back as I can remember. BPH makes you very conscious of what you drink and when. You are always looking around to scope out the nearest bathroom. When the urge to void comes, it’s a powerful urge that comes on suddenly and is difficult to hold back. I ended up wearing pee pads, which I wasn’t a fan of, but it was better than the alternative.”
Benefits of PAE
Clinical studies and personal anecdotes validate this alternate therapy’s benefits over traditional procedures.
In a study titled, Randomized Comparison of PAE vs. TURP for Treatment of BPH, significantly fewer adverse events such as bleeding, impotence, and infection were reported among patients who had the PAE procedure.
Dr. Tritle summarizes some of PAE’s most significant benefits. “There is less blood in the urine after surgery, a lower incidence of retrograde ejaculation and erectile dysfunction, and the urinary catheter comes out the same day.”
As for Holliger, he is enormously satisfied with the procedure. “I just went on a 14-hour marathon drive down to Atlantic Beach, NC, and it was so nice not to have to worry. I just made regular pit stops like everyone else.”
He is telling everyone who will listen about his experience with PAE in alleviating his BPH symptoms.
“Guys don’t like to talk about this kind of stuff, so I don’t ask my friends if they are dealing with it. I say, hey guys if you know anyone who has BPH symptoms, let me tell you about this PAE. And they seem willing to listen, so maybe some of them are in the early stages, and I’m educating them.”
For more information on prostate artery embolization services, visit viaveincenter.com.