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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 called aquablation therapy. This minimally invasive robotic approach uses heat-free technology to remove a precise amount of tissue using room temperature water. No physical incision is required.
If you’re experiencing the signs of an enlarged prostate, it helps to know what’s going on. Read on with insights from our urology expert, Dr. Ali Tourchi.
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 urinate many times at night
- 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 Ali Tourchi, MD, a urologist at AdventHealth Palm Coast Parkway.
Dr. Tourchi continues, “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,” Dr. Tourchi 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. Tourchi. 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 relatively new, it includes a one-night hospital stay for observation.
Helping You Return to Whole Health
Even though having an enlarged prostate isn’t life-threatening, whole-person health is our goal and we take quality-of-life concerns seriously. Aquablation can help you find relief while avoiding the risks of traditional surgery.
Learn more and reach out to schedule an appointment here.