FDA approves minimally invasive, cheaper option for prostate surgery

Men who suffer from benign prostatic hyperplasia have a new treatment option, University of California, San Diego (UCSD) researchers announced this July—and it’s one that involves minimal operative pain, fewer out-of-pocket dollars and no hospital stay.

The FDA recently approved prostate artery embolization, or PAE, to treat enlarged prostates, which affect at least half of men over 60 years old, lead researcher Andrew Picel, MD, said in a release from the university. Though the treatment itself isn’t new, the United States hasn’t seen much of it.

“PAE has been available in Europe as a treatment option for an enlarged prostate for several years,” Picel, an interventional radiologist at UCSD Health, said. “With the recent FDA approval of this procedure, we are happy to offer this as an alternative to surgery for patients who are good candidates.”

With PAE, physicians use x-ray guidance to insert a small catheter into a patient’s upper thigh or wrist, thread that catheter into the arteries supplying the prostate and inject small particles into the bloodstream to partially block blood flow to the prostate. This shrinks the prostate and helps with discomfort related to benign prostatic hyperplasia, including urinary and kidney problems.

Alexander Norbash, MD, chair of Radiology at UCSD School of Medicine, said in the release the nearly 20 patients treated with PAE so far at UCSD have been able to recover from their procedures at home, more conveniently and much more quickly. That’s in contrast to standard surgery options for an enlarged prostate like transurethral resection, which requires full anesthesia, three to six weeks of recovery and an overnight stay at the hospital.

Picel said candidates for PAE are screened and referred at UCSD Health. Candidates are most commonly in their 50s to 80s  and have been assessed for prostate cancer risk in the past. It’s important all patients are educated about the range of treatment options available to them, he said.

“It is great that patients now have a minimally invasive alternative to surgery to help with this common health problem,” Picel said. “The collaboration between interventional radiology and urology is why we are seeing such success treating patients with PAE.”