Strong Memorial Introduces Microwave Therapy for Enlarged Prostate; Condition Affects Millions of Older Men

October 28, 1998

Strong Memorial Hospital is the first in the area to offer transurethral microwave therapy, a new non-medical/non-surgical treatment for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) -- enlarged prostate -- a condition which affects millions of men over 50.

BPH causes increased frequency of urination during the day and night; sudden urges to urinate; difficulty in starting urination; weak flow of urination; and a sensation of incomplete emptying of the bladder. In severe cases, it can cause urinary retention or kidney damage.

Strong was one of eight medical centers in the United States which tested the new system -- called transurethral microwave therapy -- leading to its recent approval by the FDA.

Robert Mayer, M.D., leader of a team of three urologists at URMC performing the procedure, believes that microwave treatment shows great promise. "It is a minimally invasive, effective treatment that shows good results without the need for anesthesia, hospitalization, and a long period of recovery."

Microwave therapy represents a major advance in the treatment of BPH, providing significant benefits to the patient, and an alternative to drugs or surgery. The two to three hour, outpatient office-based treatment is performed by a urologist who inserts a flexible catheter into the urethra. A microwave antenna inside the catheter delivers precisely targeted microwave energy, which creates high temperatures in the prostate that destroy the diseased prostate tissue.

Simultaneously, the catheter cools and protects the adjacent urethra, thereby minimizing discomfort, complications, and recovery time. The outpatient procedure does not require general or spinal anesthesia, though use of a mild sedative or analgesic medication is sometimes used to relax the patient and further minimize any discomfort.

Following the procedure, a standard catheter remains in place for two to five days. Symptom improvement is expected to be most dramatic between eight and twelve weeks after treatment. The national study shows that microwave therapy significantly improved patients' quality of life, and BPH symptoms reduced by more than half. Long-term results are still being measured in that study, but from another done in Europe and Canada, the benefits appear to be quite durable, with follow-up now out to several years.

Although all men with BPH are not candidates for microwave therapy, many men are. Anyone requiring further information should contact Strong Health at 1-888-661-6162, ext. 14 or speak to their primary care physician.

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