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What is Prostate Artery Embolization (PAE)?

Jul 5, 2024, 14:06 PM by Rose Abell
Interventional radiology spotlight: Prostate artery embolization provides minimally invasive treatment for men suffering from urinary symptoms of an enlarged prostate. We spoke with George Zlotchenko, MD about what to expect with this innovative treatment.

Prostate artery embolization (PAE) is a minimally invasive treatment for an enlarged prostate, a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

An enlarged prostate gland in men surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder. This can obstruct urine flow, causing frequent urination, difficulty starting the stream and a feeling of incomplete emptying.

“There are many different treatments for BPH, some of which have negative side effects like sexual dysfunction,” shares interventional radiologist George Zlotchenko, MD. “Prostate artery embolization has fewer side effects and can be done in our outpatient clinic here at CU Medicine Interventional Radiology – Highlands Ranch at Ridgeline Medical Campus.”

 During PAE, an interventional radiologist inserts a catheter into an artery and guides it to the arteries supplying the prostate. Tiny particles are then injected to intentionally block blood flow, causing the prostate to shrink and relieving symptoms.

The procedure offers an alternative to surgery with a lower risk of complications like incontinence and erectile dysfunction. It also has a shorter recovery time.

prostate-artery-embolization

Benefits of prostate artery embolization

Prostate artery embolization offers several key benefits over traditional surgical treatments for an enlarged prostate:

Minimally Invasive: PAE is performed through a small catheter insertion in the groin or wrist, eliminating the need for major surgery or hospital stays.

Faster Recovery: Most patients can resume normal activities within a few days after the procedure, compared to weeks or months with invasive surgery. 

Lower Risk: By avoiding surgical trauma, PAE lowers the risk of complications like incontinence and erectile dysfunction associated with prostate surgery. 

Effective Symptom Relief: Studies show PAE effectively relieves bothersome urinary symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate in most patients.

With its minimally invasive approach, shorter downtime and lower complication rates, prostate artery embolization provides an attractive alternative for managing benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Dr. Zlotchenko shares, “It’s the lower side effects that make this procedure desirable for men dealing with the urinary symptoms of BPH.”

Who is a Good Candidate for PAE?

Prostate artery embolization may be recommended for men who meet certain criteria:

Moderate to Severe Symptoms: Ideal candidates experience moderate to severe urinary symptoms from an enlarged prostate that significantly impact quality of life.

Poor Response to Medications: Men who have not achieved adequate relief from medication therapies like alpha-blockers or 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors may be candidates.

Other Treatments Unsuccessful: PAE can provide an alternative option for those who have not responded well to other BPH treatments.

“Something we do here at our clinic is work with urologists to make sure we’re looking at all solutions for our patients,” Dr. Zlotchenko said.

What to Expect During the PAE Procedure

Prostate artery embolization is typically performed by an interventional radiologist on an outpatient basis. Here's a step-by-step look at what to expect:

Preparation: Patients may need to stop certain medications like blood thinners prior to the procedure. Moderate/conscious sedation helps ensure comfort.

Catheter Insertion: After numbing the area, a small catheter is inserted into an artery, usually in the wrist or groin area.

Catheter Guidance: Using real-time X-ray imaging, the interventional radiologist guides the catheter to the arteries supplying blood to the prostate gland. 

Embolization: Once in position, tiny embolization particles are injected through the catheter to intentionally block the prostate's blood supply.

Recovery Period: Following the one to two hour procedure, patients typically go home the same day with the catheter removal site bandaged.

Most men can return to normal activities within a few days, though the full effects of prostate shrinkage occur gradually over three to six months as lack of blood flow causes cells to die off.

“Patients typically start to see changes in two weeks and the progress goes on over a three to six month period,” states Dr. Zlotchenko.

Throughout the process, patients remain comfortably sedated and feel little to no pain during the embolization itself.

Prostate artery embolization at CU Medicine

The team at CU Medicine Interventional Radiology - Highlands Ranch at Ridgeline Medical Campus combine an academic medical center's expertise with a community setting for prostate artery embolization. 

“I’m an assistant clinical professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and involved in clinical trials for the treatment of BPH,” shares Dr. Zlotchenko. “This is just one example of how we’re bringing the latest research and innovation to our practice here in south Denver.”

The state-of-the-art clinic in Highlands Ranch features leading imaging technology and an advanced procedural suite. The experienced clinical team specializes in PAE and other top interventional radiology treatments. 

For those suffering from enlarged prostate effects, PAE may offer relief. Patients can call (720) 516-0637 to schedule a consultation at CU Medicine Interventional Radiology – Highlands Ranch at Ridgeline Medical Campus. The expert team will determine if this innovative, minimally invasive treatment is the right option.

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