Is minimally invasive procedure effective for enlarged prostates?


The Ache: About half of men age 51 to 60 have enlarged prostates—a noncancerous condition that can cause urinary troubles, including frequent need to use the bathroom.

The Claim: A new minimally invasive procedure uses tiny implants to pull back excess prostate tissue, taking pressure off the urethra. It eases symptoms without need for medications or surgery, both of which can cause sexual side effects.

The Verdict: In two- and four-year studies funded by the manufacturer and presented at a scientific meeting in May, the new procedure, called UroLift, was found effective in treating symptoms of enlarged prostate without causing sexual side effects. Recovery was faster than with traditional surgery called transurethral resection, or TURP. Within four years, however, 14 percent of patients who got UroLift needed a repeat surgery for their symptoms.

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“If all goes well, TURP will bring maybe a little better result, but the trade-off is a lot more risk,” says Peter J. Walter, a Jamestown, N.Y., urologic surgeon who does both procedures. Dr. Walter, 54, faced with his own enlarged prostate, chose to have the UroLift performed on himself in April.

UroLift, which can be done under local anesthetic, costs are covered by many insurers at a price of about $5,000, says Dave Amerson, chief executive of NeoTract Inc., the Pleasanton, Calif., company that sells the devices used in the procedure.

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