Treatment for Enlarged Prostate Improves Men’s Health — And Lives

Kirk Garratt, M.D., M.Sc.

To help men over 50 with a common medical condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), ChristianaCare’s Center for Heart & Vascular Health offers prostate embolization, a minimally invasive outpatient procedure performed by vascular interventional radiologists.

ChristianaCare is the only health care provider in Delaware that offers the procedure.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia, also known as an enlarged prostate, blocks the flow of urine through the urethra by putting pressure on it. Symptoms range from the urgent and frequent need to urinate to incontinence, and they can significantly impact a man’s quality of life.

“An enlarged prostate can cause uncomfortable and embarrassing symptoms that worsen with age,” said Kirk Noel Garratt, M.D., medical director of ChristianaCare’s Center for Heart and Vascular Health and John H. Ammon Chair of Cardiology.

“Frequent bathroom visits at night disrupt sleep and create fatigue during the day,” he said. “And men with BPH often talk about urinary urgency, meaning they need to get to a bathroom quickly.

“We’re pleased that we can offer an effective, less invasive treatment option for BPH close to home. It’s another example of ChristianaCare providing the right care at the right time and in the right place.”

Read Earl Tate’s story.

Prostate embolization is a departure from the traditional surgical treatment, which involves burning the prostate or removing a portion of it. There are other differences as well. In a traditional procedure, the surgeon enters the body through the penis and urethra to reach the prostate. For a prostate embolization, the interventional radiologist goes through the blood vessel in the wrist or groin.

Christopher Grilli, D.O.

“We have had excellent results with the procedure,” said Christopher Grilli, D.O., a vascular interventional radiologist and one of a team of three physicians who perform prostate embolization at ChristianaCare.

“The procedure selectively blocks the blood vessels that feed the prostate. Without a blood supply, the prostate shrinks until it is close to a standard size and symptoms lessen.”

Read a Q&A on prostate embolization with Dr. Grilli.

A numbing agent is given at the start of the procedure. General anesthesia is not necessary. Once the area is numb, imaging technology is used to accurately insert a small catheter and inject tiny particles into the blood vessels of the prostate.

“The recovery is much faster compared to surgical options,” said Dr. Grilli.

Patients must not lift heavy objects for a few days, but otherwise they can resume most normal activities. Symptoms usually improve by the second week and continue to improve over the next one to two months.

Any man with an enlarged prostate and lower urinary tract symptoms is a potential candidate. BPH is confirmed through an exam and laboratory diagnosis. Prostate artery embolization maintains its effectiveness for years after patients undergo the therapy.