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From Diagnosis to Treatment: The Journey of a BPH Patient in Interventional Radiology

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), commonly known as an enlarged prostate, is a medical condition that affects a significant number of men, especially as they age. It's not just a matter of physical discomfort; it's a quality-of-life issue. Today, we shed light on the BPH journey, emphasizing the cutting-edge treatments available in interventional radiology, a field that offers minimally invasive solutions with effective outcomes.

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Recognising the Symptoms of BPH

Understanding and recognizing symptoms is the first step towards addressing any medical condition. For BPH, symptoms often revolve around urination irregularities, which can range from mild annoyances to significant disruptions in daily life. These include:

  • Frequent urination, especially during night-time.
  • An urgent need to urinate, sometimes leading to incontinence.
  • Difficulty initiating urination.
  • A weak urinary stream or a stream that starts and stops.
  • Feeling that the bladder isn't completely empty after urinating.

When these symptoms become noticeable, it's essential to seek medical advice. Early consultation can prevent complications and pave the way for more straightforward treatments.


Diagnosis of BPH

Once a man suspects BPH or starts noticing urinary changes, the next logical step is diagnosis. The process is systematic and precise:

  1. Digital Rectal Examination: A basic physical examination where a doctor feels the size and shape of the prostate.
  2. Ultrasound Imaging: This offers a visual representation of the prostate, helping determine its size and if there are any irregularities.
  3. Urine Sample: This rules out infections that might be causing or exacerbating the symptoms.
  4. Blood Test: PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) levels are checked to ensure there's no risk of prostate cancer.


Exploring Treatment Options

With a confirmed diagnosis, the journey shifts to finding the most suitable treatment pathway. BPH, being a common condition, has seen a myriad of treatments evolve over the years. Here's a brief overview:

  • Medications: Drugs such as alpha blockers can alleviate BPH symptoms by relaxing prostate and bladder muscles, improving urine flow. However, these medications might come with side effects like dizziness or even erectile dysfunction.
  • Surgeries: For severe BPH cases, surgical interventions like Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP) might be suggested. During TURP, obstructing parts of the prostate are removed. While effective, it has a longer recovery period and potential complications.
  • Minimally Invasive Procedures: Methods like UroLift, which uses implants to hold back obstructing prostate tissue, are gaining traction due to reduced invasiveness.

However, at the forefront of these minimally invasive treatments is Prostate Artery Embolization (PAE). Renowned for its balance of effectiveness and reduced invasiveness, PAE epitomises the modern approach for those seeking efficient treatment, quick recovery, and minimal post-procedure complications.


In-depth Look at Prostate Artery Embolization (PAE)

PAE is a testament to how far medical science has come. It's a procedure that requires no incisions, reduces recovery times, and maintains a patient's quality of life. Here's how it works:

  1. Procedure Dynamics: A minuscule catheter is delicately threaded into the blood vessels feeding the prostate.
  2. Embolization: Microscopic particles are introduced via the catheter, effectively blocking blood flow to the problematic areas of the prostate.
  3. Outcome: This targeted approach results in a reduction in the size of the prostate, which in turn alleviates BPH symptoms.

There are several reasons why PAE is gaining traction:

  • Reduced Recovery Time: Unlike traditional surgeries, the recovery period post-PAE is minimal.
  • Fewer Complications: The risk of infections or other complications is significantly lower.
  • No General Anesthesia: The procedure only requires local anesthesia.
  • Sexual Function: PAE typically has a lower risk of causing sexual dysfunction compared to some traditional surgeries.

The PAE Procedure Experience

For many, the idea of undergoing a medical procedure, even one touted as minimally invasive, can be daunting. However, understanding the journey can help ease anxieties and set clear expectations. Here’s a breakdown of the PAE experience:

  • Preparation: Ahead of the procedure, a brief consultation discusses medical history, potential risks, and anticipated outcomes. Some preparatory tests might be done, and fasting could be advised.
  • During the Procedure: In a sterile setting, local anesthesia numbs the entry site. Using X-ray guidance, a radiologist introduces a slender catheter through the femoral artery, navigating it to the prostate arteries. Microscopic particles are then injected to block specific vessels, initiating the prostate's shrinkage. The procedure typically spans 1-2 hours.
  • Post-procedure: Following PAE, patients rest in a recovery area for a short period. Mild soreness at the catheter's entry point is expected. Most return home the same day, with advice to refrain from strenuous activities for a few days.
  • Follow-up: A subsequent check-up occurs within a couple of weeks, monitoring recovery and gauging the treatment's success.

The PAE journey, from start to finish, aims to be efficient, minimally discomforting, and centered on patient well-being.


Recovery and Aftercare Post PAE

The aftermath of the PAE procedure is as crucial as the treatment itself. Proper care and understanding of the recovery phase play a pivotal role in ensuring optimal results and patient well-being. Here's a detailed look into what one can expect:

  • Immediate Aftermath: Post-procedure, a short hospital stay ensures patients are stable and free from immediate complications before heading home.
  • Discomfort Management: Some soreness at the catheter entry site is normal. Over-the-counter pain relief, guided by the doctor, can help. Temporary urinary changes, like increased frequency, are common but usually subside within a week.
  • Activity Recommendations: It's advised to avoid strenuous activities for about a week. However, light walking is encouraged to promote healing.
  • Dietary Tips: Staying hydrated assists in alleviating urinary symptoms, while a fiber-rich diet counters potential constipation, which could stress the prostate.
  • Follow-Up Care: Check-ins, typically within a month, are crucial. They gauge recovery, monitor prostate size, and address any concerns.
  • Long-Term Outlook: Most patients observe a marked BPH symptom reduction within weeks to months. Annual check-ups help maintain prostate health.

In a nutshell, the recovery journey post-PAE emphasizes patience, adherence to guidelines, and regular communication with medical professionals for optimal healing and outcomes.



Navigating the BPH journey, from initial symptoms to treatment decisions, can be daunting. Thankfully, advancements in interventional radiology, notably the PAE procedure, offer promising, minimally invasive solutions. The key to navigating this path confidently lies in being informed and proactive. Open conversations with healthcare experts are invaluable in this respect.

If you're exploring BPH treatments or considering PAE, remember you don't have to journey alone. Book a consultation with us. Our experienced team stands ready to provide insights, address concerns, and guide you towards optimal health outcomes.


Schedule Your Personalised Consultation With Our Experts Today!

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Shaun Quigley

Shaun Quigley

Dr Shaun Quigley operates Northern Beaches Interventional Radiology, and specialises in minimally invasive treatment options for a range of conditions, including benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), fibroids, adenomyosis and varicocele.

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