Health Care

What is Aquablation, and is it for Me?

Older Man talking his doctor about Aquablation.
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For many men, an enlarged prostate is one common side effect of aging. For some, this change begins around age 40 — and about half of the male population experience this condition by age 60.

Often, this change doesn’t lead to any significant issues. However, some men may experience sleep disruptions due to the need to use the bathroom frequently at night. You may also experience other urinary problems, including the inability to empty your bladder fully.

Removing obstructing tissue via surgery or laser procedures has traditionally been the most common form of treatment for persistent moderate to severe situations. Though helpful, the use of heat does bring risks, including erectile dysfunction.

One option to reduce certain risks is considering Aquablation. This minimally invasive robotic approach uses heat-free technology to remove a precise amount of tissue using room temperature water, with no physical incision required.

If you’re experiencing the signs of an enlarged prostate, it helps to know what’s going on.

What Is BPH?

The prostate is a ping-pong ball-sized gland that makes a fluid that forms part of semen. The prostate surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the bladder.

The technical term for an enlarged prostate is “benign prostatic hyperplasia,” or BPH. It’s called “benign” because it’s not cancerous. However, it can cause problems. According to the National Institute on Aging, prostate problems include the following:

  • Blood in Urine or Semen
  • Dribbling of Urine
  • Frequent Pain or Stiffness in the Lower Back, Hips, Pelvic or Rectal Area or Upper Thighs
  • Frequent Urge to Urinate
  • Need to Get Up Many Times During the Night to Urinate
  • Painful Ejaculation
  • Pain or Burning Urination

These symptoms could also be warning signs of prostate cancer, so getting them checked out is important. Even if cancer is ruled out, you may still want to pursue symptom relief. That’s where Aquablation can help.

How Does Aquablation Work?

So, how does Aquablation work? Its name provides a clue: It combines “aqua,” or water, with “ablation,” the surgical removal of tissue.

The process starts by mapping out the area needing treatment using detailed images from an ultrasound. “Aquablation therapy is the only procedure that gives a surgeon the ability to view the entire prostate during treatment,” says Edward Kata, MD, a urologist at AdventHealth Kissimmee. “It allows the surgeon to map which parts of the prostate to remove and which parts to avoid, reducing risks of irreversible complications like erectile dysfunction, ejaculatory dysfunction, and incontinence.”

Using this personalized map, your surgeon programs a robotic system to guide a waterjet directly to only the intended tissue.

“This treatment is tailor-made to fit the exact size of each prostate,” AdventHealth Celebration urologist Michael McDonald, MD, says of the procedure. “The whole procedure takes less than an hour — and its relative lack of side effects have quickly made it an attractive alternative to regular surgery.”

The robot is autonomous, meaning once it’s programmed, it acts on its own, allowing for a precise and quick procedure — the treatment itself lasts only about five minutes. The longest part of the procedure involves taking pictures and deciding what to remove.

“Every procedure is going to be different based on the size and position of the prostate, “ says Dr. McDonald. Aquablation is an option for most men with enlarged prostates. However, it isn’t recommended for men with prostate cancer or certain other bladder conditions.

Since Aquablation treatment is still relatively new, it includes a one-night hospital stay so patients can be observed overnight. Someday though, it may be offered in a same-day surgery center. AdventHealth currently provides this treatment in our Celebration, Kissimmee and Winter Garden hospital locations, and expansion plans for additional hospitals are underway.

Helping You Return to Whole Health

Even though having an enlarged prostate isn’t life-threatening, whole-person health is our focus, so we take these quality-of-life concerns seriously. Aquablation may help you find relief while avoiding the risks of traditional surgery. Contact one of our urology specialists to learn more about Aquablation and determine if you’re a candidate.

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