Call it being in between. Women with fibroids and men with benign prostatic hyperplasia often find themselves suffering with uncomfortable symptoms because medications don’t help enough, but major surgery seems like too big a step. Now a minimally invasive technique called embolization offers life-changing relief without the need for major surgery and it is available at CHI Health Lakeside.
“Embolization is a technique which offers a safe alternative to medications and major surgery,” said Chad Eicher, MD, interventional radiologist. “It’s a wonderful option because it has fewer risks and side effects. Since it’s minimally invasive, it doesn’t require general anesthetic and patients are able to return to their normal lives quickly.”
For women, uterine fibroids can cause heavy menstrual bleeding, pain and pressure on the bowel or bladder. These noncancerous growths can range in size and occur in many women at some point, but most don’t know they have fibroids because they don’t cause symptoms. For others, fibroids can cause symptoms such as heavy bleeding, long periods, pelvic pressure and pain, frequent urination and constipation. Treatments range from medications to a hysterectomy to remove the uterus.
When medications fail to provide relief, uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) can offer relief without the need for surgery. Nearly 90 percent of women who get UFE have significant or complete resolution of their symptoms.1
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
For men, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) – noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland – can cause poor urinary flow, frequent urination, incomplete bladder emptying, sudden urge to urinate or even inability to urinate. About half of all men from age 51 to 60 have BPH, and almost 90% of men age 80 and older have it. Treatments range from medications to prostatectomy to remove the prostate.
When oral medications don’t provide relief from symptoms, prostate artery embolization (PAE) can offer significant improvement in symptoms without removing the prostate. A study of 1,000 men found success rates for PAE from 78 to 89 percent at short-term, medium and long-term benchmarks.2
For both men and women, embolization works by preventing blood flow to an area of the body – to the fibroids for women, to the prostate for men. “Reducing the blood flow causes the tissues in question to shrink, thus reducing or eliminating troublesome symptoms,” said Dr. Eicher.
The UFE and PAE procedures are performed by an interventional radiologist who is specially trained in anatomy and image guidance. After making a small incision in the groin area, the interventional radiologist uses a special x-ray camera called a fluoroscope to guide the delivery of small particles or beads through a catheter to the arteries which provide blood flow to the area in question. Placement of particles reduces blood flow to the area, causing the prostate to shrink in men and fibroids to decrease in size in women.
Success rates are high for both procedures and complications rate are typically low. These may include bleeding, infection, injury to the artery used and blood clots. Patients typically return to their normal lives in a few days.
If you think embolization might help you, talk to your health care provider about this treatment or call (402) 717-8000. “There’s no reason to suffer with symptoms from these conditions, especially as techniques continue to advance,” said Dr. Eicher. “It’s always good to explore your options.”