The tiny anchor to treat an enlarged prostate that could cure incontinence
Last updated at 10:46 PM on 20th February 2012
Doctors have devised a new treatment for enlarged prostate that involves placing a tiny anchor in the gland.
And compared with existing surgical and drug procedures, it seems to be less damaging to men’s sex lives.
The anchor treatment has been developed to treat an enlarged (non-cancerous) prostate, a condition also called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
The prostate often becomes larger with age, causing symptoms such as reduced or weak urine flow, or frequent night-time urination
The prostate is a doughnut-shaped gland that sits around the urethra as it exits the bladder.
It often becomes larger with age, causing symptoms such as reduced or weak urine flow, or frequent night-time urination.
There may also be hesitancy, and a feeling that the bladder isn’t empty.
One in four men over 80 will have been treated for an enlarged prostate, although it is not known why only some men develop the condition and others do not.
While current treatments can improve the symptoms, there are potential side-effects.
With drug treatments these include sexual dysfunction, dizziness and headaches, as well as decreased libido.
One study found that more than a quarter of men stop drug treatment early, mainly due to adverse events and lack of effectiveness.
The gold-standard surgical technique is called transurethral resection of the prostate or TURP.
Research suggests that erectile dysfunction rates post-surgery can be as high as 30 per cent
Performed under general anaesthetic, the technique involves cutting away a section of the prostate gland.
However, research suggests that erectile dysfunction rates post-surgery can be as high as 30 per cent.
The new technique, called Urolift, is a minimally invasive way of pulling back the overgrown prostate tissue to widen the urethra to allow normal flow to return.
In the procedure, which is carried out under local anaesthetic, a plastic tube is inserted into the urethra and pushed through to the part of the urethra that has been narrowed.
This movement widens the urethra, but it would soon narrow again once the tube was removed.
To prevent this happening, the inserted device contains a special needle.
Once the device is in place in the middle of the gland, the surgeon triggers the device to send the needle through the surrounding prostate tissue to the outside of the gland.
The needle is threaded with surgical thread. At the other end of the thread there is a tiny anchor which secures it on the inside of the gland.
The thread is then pulled tight, pulling the gland away from the urethra, taking the pressure off.
New research shows the treatment can be highly effective.
In a study carried out at centres in Australia, including the University of Sydney, 64 men who had suffered with urinary tract problems for an average of five years underwent the treatment.
The results show there was an average improvement in prostate symptoms of 60 per cent across the men.
This was based on the International Prostate Symptom Score or IPSS which measures a number of factors including urine flow.
None of the men had sexual functioning problems as a result of the procedure.
‘This study demonstrated that meaningful relief can be achieved without compromising sexual function with a minimally invasive mechanical therapy,’ say the researchers.
‘While the symptom improvement was similar to other minimally invasive therapies, the absence of adverse events related to sexual functioning distinguishes this approach.’
Commenting on the research, Raj Persad, consultant urologist at Bristol Royal Infirmary, and senior clinical lecturer at the University of Bristol, said: ‘All procedures to date on the prostate have a down side in reduction in, or impact on sexual function and fertility.
‘They are designed to remove tissue obstructing the bladder, hence causing bladder symptoms.
‘By their nature they deliberately damage the prostate which although a nuisance is still important for sexual functioning.
'It produces most of the ejaculate and fluids nutritive to sperm.
‘Any procedure which can reduce the side-effects of treating this condition would be welcome — so long as the side-effects and cost are tolerable.’