Doctors pioneer non-surgical prostate procedure

Doctors at UHS are the first in the UK to treat men suffering from the severe effects of an enlarged prostate using a pioneering non-surgical procedure.

The technique, known as prostate artery embolisation (PAE), involves using a tiny plastic catheter inserted in the groin to place particles the size of grains of sand into the prostate arteries to cut the blood supply and shrink the gland.

Also referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia, the condition forces the prostate to expand onto the urethra – the tube connecting the bladder to the penis – and causes sufferers difficulty in starting urination, a frequent need to urinate and an inability to empty the bladder.  

Dr Nigel Hacking and Dr Tim Bryant, consultant interventional radiologists at Southampton General Hospital, are the first in the UK to start the treatment.

“Most men are likely to suffer the consequences of an enlarged prostate later in life and it is a particularly uncomfortable and unpleasant condition which can seriously damage quality of life,” Dr Hacking explained.

“This technique allows us to halt symptoms non-surgically through just a one to two hour procedure under local anaesthetic which sees the patient home within four to six hours – it is a major milestone.”

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Page comments

My husband (age 61) is currently being treated for BPH at Guys & St Thomas' in London. He has LUTS. He rejected HOLEP because of the likelihood of retrograde ejaculation and the invasiveness of the proecedure. We asked what alternatives there were and now he has been CT scanned to see if he is suitable for PAE. They say he has a large median lobe which may mean the procedure is not so successful. We haven't spoken with the interventional radiologist there as yet. Any thoughts?
Anonymous (27/07/2017 10:58:47)
I am a 77 year old male with acute enlarged prostate because of respitory problems related to COPD I have been advised against surgery because of problems with anesthetics any ideas please
Anonymous (06/06/2017 15:32:39)
just been put on nhs referral list for TURPS op-no cancer present. very interested in the PAE method. I am a healthy 78 year old and would be interested to hear if this op would be available either on NHS or Private to myself either in Southampton or nearer Herts.
Anonymous (13/04/2017 14:41:32)
The Freeman hospital in Newcastle was involved in the UK-ROPE registry. I am not sure whether they are currently treating NHS patients, but would suggest contacting the interventional radiology department there who should be able to advise.
Dr Tim Bryant (30/03/2017 16:01:58)
The Freeman hospital in Newcastle was involved in the UK-ROPE registry. I am not sure whether they are currently treating NHS patients, but would suggest contacting the interventional radiology department there who should be able to advise.
Dr Tim Bryant (29/03/2017 15:25:23)
Is this treatment available on NHS in North East England at present time - March 23rd 2017? My husband has been diagnosed with BHP today. thank you for your anticipated reply!
Anonymous (23/03/2017 17:07:18)
Prostate artery embolisation is generating a lot of interest in men with severe symptoms of an enlarged prostate. The technique appears to be good in highly selected patients.

The procedure is not yet NICE approved, and so all patients have to be assessed and treated in a highly controlled manner as part of ongoing studies in both NHS and private patient settings.

At present there is no further funding for NHS patients and we can only offer the treatment privately, but there is a planned Multi-centre National Registry (UK-ROPE) due to recruit at up to 10 centres around the UK commencing around April 2014.

Whether you are treated in Southampton or elsewhere the inclusion and exclusion criteria to have treatment will be the same. And only around 50% of patients enquiring are deemed appropriate for this form of treatment.

The arteries in men over the age of 75 make the technique more hazardous and men have to be referred by their GP and or urologist to be considered. They will also have to have a urinary flow study, formal urodynamics and a CT arteriogram. Men with a raised PSA may need a prostate biopsy to try to exclude prostate cancer.

This work up can take many weeks, but it is this careful selection which has generated the excellent results seen in the Southampton series done to date.
Dr Nigel Hacking (17/01/2014 11:41:43)
I live in USA. Do u know anyone doing the PAE procedure in USA. If not what are the chances of getting it done at your hospital.
Anonymous (11/01/2014 17:22:32)
could you tell me if this treatment can be performed at this hospital for patients who live in other parts of the country and is it done on the NHS or private?
Anonymous (06/01/2014 20:26:17)
I would like to know more about the PAE procedure done here, what are the success rates, any side effects any info about the PAE program with Dr. Nigel Hacking would be appreciated I live in Minnesota U.S. A. I'm thinking about having the procedure done.
Bernard Ruppert (02/02/2013 21:55:07)
The technique of embolisation is not new, but this is a new indication. The prostate still functions well after embolisation. Non target embolisation is a rare consequence of the procedure. In over 200 cases of prostate artery embolisation worldwide theer has only been one case requiring a minor bladder repair. The procedure appears safe, but its safety is one of the reasons for commencing this carefully monitored clinical evaluation in Southampton.
Dr Nigel Hacking (28/05/2012 11:50:50)
Great to know that research is continuing into medical conditions.
Jim (25/05/2012 13:13:29)
Are there any possible side effects?
Could the sand particles permeate into the main artery system possibly resulting in a blockage
Is it reversable if necessary?
How available is the procedure?
Anonymous (25/05/2012 11:45:35)
Would the lack of blood mean the prostate would no longer function properly?
Trevor Arbery (25/05/2012 09:59:07)
This is a really positive piece of news, about something that I assumed had to be suffered as a consequence of age. I will talk to my GP as soon as I can about the possibility of having this treatment.
Anonymous (24/05/2012 11:38:20)