How Successful is Prostate Artery Embolization for BPH?

Men who have benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH; aka enlarged prostate) who are looking for a treatment option that is effective and does not involve drugs or major surgery may want to consider prostate artery embolization (PAE). A report on the benefits of prostate artery embolization for enlarged prostate was presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology’s 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting.

An enlarged prostate affects approximately half of men age 51 to 60 and as many as 90 percent of men older than 80. Symptoms of an enlarged prostate include but are not limited to dribbling, urinary urgency, having to urinate multiple times during the night, painful urination, and urinary frequency.

What is prostate artery embolization?

PAE is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which an interventional radiologist makes a minute incision in the wrist or groin and inserts a catheter into an artery. Image guidance is used to direct the catheter to the blood vessels adjacent to the prostate. Once the catheter has arrived at the gland, the doctor places microscopic beads to block the blood flow to the prostate, which starves the cells of oxygen and causes the gland to shrink.

Related: Prostate Artery Embolization is Safe With Few Side Effects

Study of prostate artery embolization for enlarged prostate

The study involved a total of 1,000 men with an enlarged prostate who underwent prostate artery embolization between March 2007 and March 2016. Evaluations were conducted for all of the men at one, three, and six months (short-term) following their procedure, while 807 men were evaluated every six months between six months and three years and 406 were followed every year after three years.

Overall, the researchers found:

  • An 89 percent success rate during the short term
  • An 82 percent success rate during the medium term
  • A 78 percent success rate during the long term
  • Among the 112 men who had acute urinary retention before undergoing PAE, 89 (78.5) did not experience a recurrence of this problem in the long term
  • Among the 210 men with very large prostates, PAE resulted in success in 76.2 percent of men in the long term

Benefits of prostate artery embolization

According to the study’s lead author, Joao Martins Pisco, MD, “Prostate artery embolization gives men with BPH a treatment option that is less invasive than other therapies and allows them to return to their normal lives sooner.” Prostate artery embolization also involves less recovery time and side effects than traditional surgery for BPH, is performed on an outpatient basis, and involves only local anesthesia.

Related: Does Prostate Artery Embolization Work?

Based on the findings of this study, Dr. Pisco noted that “this minimally invasive treatment is successful in the long term and should always be presented to patients who are exploring options to resolve their BPH.” Men who may not be candidates for PAE include those who have advanced arterial atherosclerosis associated with smoking or diabetes.


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