Prostate Artery Embolization

As men age, for many of them, the prostate may become a problem. For some reason, the prostate was designed so that, as we age, it gets bigger and urinating becomes more difficult. This difficulty obviously causes men some degree of consternation. It is one of those things that doesn’t seem fair. It is also one of those things that seems like it could have been better designed. See, the prostate wraps around the ureter, the small straw-like conduit through which urine passes from the bladder. As the prostate increases in size, the straw is squeezed and, therefore, urinating becomes more difficult.

Hope is near, However! Along comes a surgeon. Urologists have long been able to attempt to alleviate men’s urinary difficulties by either cutting a hole in the prostate or cutting the prostate out altogether. But this type of surgery is fraught with risks.

Every decision has risks and benefits. One of the risks of prostate surgery, or TURP, is impotence. Another risk is incontinence. These are just two of a man’s main concerns when considering an intervention on his body. Of course, no treatment means kidney failure and even death so perhaps impotence and incontinence are the lesser of two evils.

But wait, there is another solution! Prostate artery embolization has come along in recent years. What is that you say? Well, simplifying, we interventional radiologists snake a tiny catheter through the arteries of your body and navigate to the tiny arteries feeding the prostate. We then send tiny particles into those prostate arteries, blocking blood flow to the prostate. What happens after that? The prostate shrinks.

So, we can effectively accomplish what the urologists have been doing all along…but with no risk of impotence or incontinence! Sounds really good to me.

Now, these pictures will be somewhat difficult to understand, but below you will see the before and after pictures of the prostate arteries being embolized. The first two images show multiple small arterial branches supplying the prostate. The next two images don’t show those branches because they’ve been blocked off by the procedure.

BEFORE:

Right prostate artery:

Left prostate artery

AFTER

Left

Right

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