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Is UroLift Right for You? What Patients with Enlarged Prostates Should Know

For some, it feels like squeezing a gallon of water through a pinhole, one dribble at a time. Others describe it as always having to urinate, but never feeling like they went. What many of the nearly 40 million American men with enlarged prostates likely do agree on is the symptoms cause them to dread going to the restroom.

Fortunately, men don’t have to dread the treatment for an enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). More than 12 million American men are treated for the condition, many via medications.

However, sometimes drugs do not adequately relieve the symptoms or can cause troubling side effects. In such circumstances, the patient may want to consider other options, including surgery.

What is UroLift?

The prostatic urethral lift (also known as the UroLift® System), one of these options, treats BPH with a minimally invasive, simple approach: It lifts the enlarged prostate tissue out of the way, like hands pulling back a curtain, without cutting the prostate.

UroLift is one of many BPH treatments we offer at Spokane Urology, based on a patient’s medical history, examination (including the size and shape of your prostate), and degree of BPH discomfort.

If you are having bothersome urinary symptoms, we encourage you to see a urologist to determine the best treatment approach for you. Our goal is to improve your quality of life and maintain your prostate, bladder, kidney, and sexual health.

Know the Prostate, Understand the Treatment

To appreciate how UroLift and other surgical treatments work, it helps to know what is happening to the body when the prostate becomes enlarged.

It begins sooner than many men may realize – around the age of 25. This is when the prostate, a walnut-sized gland located right below the bladder, begins its second period of growth (the first being during puberty). This period of growth is continuous, and as the gland enlarges, its tissue compresses the urethra, which runs through the prostate from the bladder. Over time, it can become more and more difficult for urine to get through.

This growth results in a very common problem: More than 70% of men in their 60’s have an enlarged prostate.

Surgical Treatment Gives the Urethra Space to Pee

Surgical treatments are aimed at relieving obstruction and improving urinary symptoms. The UroLift System treatment basically opens up space in the obstructed urethra by inserting small, permanent implants. The procedure can be easily described in three steps:

  1. The physician guides a small delivery device (like an ultra-thin wand) through the urethra to access the enlarged prostate.
  2. Once it reaches the obstructed area, the device places tiny UroLift implants into the lobes of the prostate, on either side of the urethra.

These implants contract gently, lifting the tissue way from the urethra and opening up the passage, aimed at relieving urinary obstruction and symptoms. 

Patients may feel improvements within two weeks, although you can first experience some discomfort while peeing and/or blood in the urine. However, these symptoms are usually temporary and improve with time.  Also, patients are typically able to resume their normal physical activities within 1 to 2 weeks of the procedure.

How long do these urinary improvements last? A recently published scientific study showed that the benefit from the UroLift treatment is durable up to at least 5 years, with preservation of sexual function in most cases. Many men will experience relief beyond 5 years, but we closely follow our patients after surgery to ensure you are healthy and happy with your urinary symptoms.

But No Need For an Overnight Catheter and Bag

My fellow surgeons and I at Spokane Urology perform UroLift treatments at our outpatient surgery center in Norwood, so overnight stays are not required for most patients, based on a preoperative medical evaluation. Catheters are not required for most patients, though this decision is made based on your individual risk factors.

If you and your urologist decide together that the UroLift System is right for you, the staff at Spokane Urology will verify insurance coverage, for peace of mind, before scheduling the procedure. The UroLift System is covered by many private insurers as well as Medicare.

Levi Deters, MD

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