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Prostate Artery Embolisation: Everything You Can Expect

Prostate Artery Embolization, commonly referred to as PAE, is an increasingly recognized medical procedure for addressing prostate-related issues, particularly benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). In this comprehensive guide, we will address the top questions related to PAE, offering insights into its procedure, efficacy, potential risks, and what patients can expect during and after treatment. Whether you are considering PAE as a treatment option or simply seeking to understand this innovative medical procedure better, this blog will provide you with the essential information you need.


What is Prostate Artery Embolization (PAE)?

Prostate Artery Embolization, or PAE, is a minimally invasive medical procedure designed to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). During PAE, a trained interventional radiologist inserts a catheter into the arteries supplying the prostate and blocks these arteries using tiny particles. This process restricts blood flow to the enlarged prostate, ultimately leading to a reduction in its size and relieving symptoms associated with BPH. Understanding the underlying principles of PAE is crucial for patients considering this treatment option.


Addressing Prostate-Related Issues

BPH is a common condition among aging men, characterised by an enlarged prostate gland that can lead to urinary symptoms such as frequent urination, difficulty initiating urination, and nocturia (waking up at night to urinate). PAE is particularly effective in reducing the size of the prostate, alleviating these bothersome symptoms, and improving overall quality of life.


The PAE Procedure: What Patients Can Expect

Prostate Artery Embolization (PAE) is a minimally invasive procedure designed to alleviate the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and improve a patient's quality of life. To help you better understand the PAE process, we'll break it down into key stages:

Pre-Procedure Preparation

Before the PAE procedure begins, patients will have a pre-procedure consultation with their healthcare team, including an interventional radiologist. During this consultation, the medical team will review your medical history and perform a physical examination. You may also undergo imaging tests to provide the healthcare team with a clear picture of your prostate and its blood supply.

The Day of the Procedure

On the day of the PAE procedure, you will typically arrive at the hospital or clinic in the morning. PAE is usually performed as an outpatient procedure, meaning you won't need to stay overnight in the hospital. Here's what you can expect on the day of the procedure:

  1. Anesthesia: You will be administered either local anesthesia or mild sedation to ensure you are comfortable and pain-free during the procedure. This means you will be awake but relaxed throughout.

Catheter Placement: The interventional radiologist will access the arteries supplying blood to the prostate through a small incision, typically in the groin or wrist area. They will insert a thin, flexible tube called a catheter into the blood vessels.

Embolisation Process

The core of the PAE procedure involves the embolization of the prostate's arteries. This step plays a pivotal role in reducing the size of the enlarged prostate. Here's what happens:

  1. Injection of Embolic Particles: Once the catheter is properly positioned, tiny embolic particles are injected into the blood vessels leading to the prostate. These particles are designed to block blood flow to the prostate, ultimately causing it to shrink.

  2. Real-Time Monitoring: During the injection of embolic particles, the interventional radiologist uses fluoroscopy or other imaging techniques to monitor the procedure in real-time. This ensures precise delivery of the embolic agents.


Recovery and Aftercare

After the PAE procedure, you'll be moved to a recovery area where medical staff will monitor your condition for a few hours. Here's what you can expect during the recovery phase:

  1. Minimal Discomfort: Most patients experience minimal discomfort following the procedure. You may be given pain medication if needed, but many people do not require it.

  2. Return to Normal Activities: Recovery time is relatively short compared to traditional surgical treatments. Many patients can resume their regular activities within a few days to a week, depending on individual circumstances.

  3. Follow-Up Appointments: Your healthcare team will schedule follow-up appointments to monitor your progress and assess the effectiveness of the procedure. It's essential to attend these appointments to ensure a successful outcome.


Potential Risks and Side Effects of PAE

While PAE is considered a safe and effective procedure, it is essential to be aware of potential risks and side effects. Like any medical procedure, there are associated risks, including but not limited to infection, bleeding, and allergic reactions to the embolic agents. Some patients may experience minor discomfort or temporary urinary symptoms after the procedure, but these typically subside as the prostate size decreases. Understanding the potential risks and side effects allows patients to make informed decisions regarding their treatment options.


Effectiveness and Success Rates of PAE

PAE has demonstrated its effectiveness in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and associated urinary symptoms. Success rates are encouraging, with many patients experiencing significant relief from symptoms and an improved quality of life. Comparatively, PAE often results in fewer complications and a shorter recovery period when compared to traditional surgical interventions, such as TURP. Exploring the efficacy and success rates of PAE in addressing prostate-related issues is crucial for individuals considering this treatment as an alternative to surgery.


Your Path to Informed Decision-Making

In conclusion, Prostate Artery Embolisation (PAE) is a valuable treatment option for individuals facing prostate-related issues, particularly benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). By understanding the basics of PAE, the conditions it can treat, the procedure itself, potential risks, and its effectiveness, patients can make informed decisions about their healthcare journey. PAE offers a minimally invasive alternative to traditional surgical treatments, providing relief from bothersome urinary symptoms and improving overall well-being. If you are considering PAE, book a consultation today and let's discuss your treatment plan, together. 

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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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