New procedure allows men to avoid surgery to correct an enlarged prostate

FOX 32 NEWS - It's a condition that men don't like to talk about, but nearly every one of them will have to deal with it at some point in their life.

Bill Smilie suffers from a condition that afflicts an estimated 15-million American men. It’s called B-P-H, also known as an enlarged prostate. He’s been taking medicine for years, but he remembers the day it got unbearably worse.

“I had total blockage of urinary tract and it was extremely painful for four hours and that led to the emergency room,” Smilie said.

Smilie decided he never wanted to experience that again. That’s when he learned about a new minimally invasive treatment that allows men to avoid surgery and corrects the condition. It’s called Prostatic Artery Embolization, or P-A-E.

"Very few side effects and really with rapid results in those patients responding,” said Dr. Riad Salem.

The prostate gland is the size of a walnut and sits below the bladder. But when it becomes enlarged, it can result in an inability to urinate, incontinence or frequent urination.

The treatment can include lifestyle changes, watchful waiting, medication or surgery. But surgery can include some unwanted side effects such as sexual dysfunction. That’s where P-A-E can help.

"The treatment involves injection of hundreds of thousands of small submillimeter particles that go into the arteries of prostate and they obstruct artery and what that results in is a softening of the prostate gland sort of a relaxation and a shrinkage,” Dr. Salem said.

Dr. Salem says it's a very complex and precise procedure. But with CT scanning and 3D imaging, interventional radiologists are able to determine the exact location of the artery. It’s an outpatient procedure that can have the patient back home in a matter of hours.

"In general we have people had symptom relief within in days in general I tell people not to expect symptom relief before a month or so,” Dr. Salem said.

Smilie had the procedure done in March.

"The results are remarkable,” he said.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital is just one of a few across the country that is testing P-A-E in FDA clinical trials.

It’s currently looking for men to take part in the trials for free, and it's hoping P-A-E will become a game changer and possibly one of the new standards of care for this condition.