Strong Memorial Only Hospital In Region To Introduce New Microwave Treatment For Enlarged Prostates

April 21, 1998

The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) is one of eight study sites in the nation which led to the recent FDA approval for a microwave treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is a common, non-cancerous growth of the prostate that happens in nearly all men as they age. URMC is the only facility in the area offering the microwave treatment.

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.

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, while at the same time eliminating the need for anesthesia and hospitalization now required for one standard treatment for BPH, as well as reducing patient costs."

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 1-11/2 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.

There are a number of options for treating BPH ranging from surgery to medications to no treatment at all. The standard treatment of BPH is TURP (trans urethral resection of the prostate). Other treatments, such as ballooning (similar to an angiogram), laser prostatectomies, and TUIP (trans urethral incision of the prostate), have also been tried over the years with varying degrees of success. Most of these treatments require anesthesia and an inpatient hospital stay, and some require an incision.

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