Enlarged prostate is a common medical problem for men over age 50, and the occurrence and symptoms increase with age. Symptoms of enlarged prostate include increased frequency and urgency of urination, inability to completely empty the bladder, dribbling of urine or incontinence, and getting up often at night to urinate. Christopher Grilli, D.O., a vascular interventional radiologist at ChristianaCare, talks about a new, noninvasive procedure called prostate embolization that is improving the lives and health of men with enlarged prostates. ChristianaCare is the only health provider in Delaware performing the procedure.

Q: What is prostate embolization?

A: Prostate embolization is a noninvasive procedure for patients with large prostates that are causing lower urinary tract symptoms like frequent urination. Prostate embolization works by selectively blocking blood vessels that feed the prostate. This causes the prostate to shrink closer to normal size. The procedure is performed through a tiny pin prick in the groin or wrist and is done under X-ray guidance. The procedure takes about two to three hours and is a same-day outpatient procedure requiring no overnight stay.

Q: How is this procedure different from other treatments for enlarged prostate?

A: Other treatments are performed by going into the penis, up the urethra, and either burning or removing a part of the prostate. Prostate embolization is completely different. It is noninvasive with no need to go up the urethra, cut or remove prostate tissue. Prostate artery embolization is performed by stopping some of the blood flow to the prostate and allowing it to shrink down on its own. Also, side effects, such as sexual side effects, seem to be lower than with traditional therapies. Additionally, the recovery is much quicker.

Q: Who is a good candidate for prostate embolization?

A: Any patient who is currently experiencing lower urinary tract symptoms is a potential candidate and should discuss this procedure with a urologist or make an appointment with ChristianaCare Vascular Interventional Radiology to learn more about it.

Q: Does prostate embolization hurt?

A: The procedure is essentially painless. Aside from a five-second pinch from the numbing needle at the beginning of the procedure, you should not feel any pain during the procedure. We don’t use general anesthesia.

Q: What is the recovery like?

A: Recovery is generally mild. You may have a few days of worsening of normal urinary symptoms, but this usually resolves within the first week. Patients often report seeing improvement in their initial symptoms by the second week. These symptoms should continue to improve over the next one to three months.

Q: Will I be able to return to normal activities?

A: You will have minor restrictions on heavy lifting for a few days due to the pin prick in the groin. Other than that, patients can generally return to normal activities the next day.

Learn more about ChristianaCare Vascular Interventional Radiology or make an appointment at 302-733-5625.