The prostate gland is a walnut sized organ below the bladder, which surrounds the urethra. For reasons not completely understood, the prostate gland begins to grow around age 50 and causes symptoms affecting urination. The enlarged prostate gland is a non-cancerous condition that affects nearly 14 million men over age 50.
The symptoms of the enlarged prostate include frequency of urination, getting up at night to urinate, urgency to urinate, decrease in the force and caliber of the urine stream and feeling that the bladder is not emptying.
The treatment for enlarged prostate includes medication to shrink the prostate gland or to relax the muscles in the prostate to relieve the obstruction. Surgical therapy includes transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) or open surgery for very large prostate glands. Recently laser therapy has become available for treating the enlarged prostate gland and is considered minimally invasive therapy.
Laser therapy is a procedure performed with a small fiber that is inserted into the urethra, the tube in the penis that allows urine to go from the bladder to the outside of the body. The fiber delivers high-powered laser energy, which quickly heats the prostate tissue, which causes the tissue to dissolve or vaporize. This process is continued until all of the enlarged prostate tissue has been removed. The end result is a wide-open channel for urine to pass through the urethra.
Laser therapy can be performed in a hospital outpatient center or an ambulatory treatment center. Usually no overnight stay is required. However, in some cases when a patient comes from a great distance, has associated medical problems such as heart disease, diabetes, or severe hypertension, or is in frail condition, an overnight stay may be recommended.
After the procedure
Most men will go home within a few hours after treatment. If a tube or catheter was inserted after the procedure, it will usually be removed the next day after the procedure.
Most patients experience marked improvement in their urinary symptoms immediately after the procedure. This improvement typically occurs within the first 24 hours after the procedure. However, the past medical history, health condition and other factors can influence treatment recovery.
Some men may experience mild discomfort such as slight burring during urination and small amounts of blood in the urine for a week or two. Also, depending upon the condition of a man’s bladder, he may experience greater frequency and urge to urinate. This will resolve over time as the bladder adjusts now that the obstruction has been removed.
There is no change in a man’s sexual function after the procedure. His ability to engage in sexual intimacy after the procedure is unchanged. Most men can begin sexual activity two weeks after the procedure. Approximately 25% of men will have a decreased or absence of ejaculation at the time of orgasm. The fluid is still there but goes backwards into the bladder and passes in the urine the next time the man urinates.
What are the risks of the laser procedure?
Every medical treatment may have side effects. The same is true for the laser treatment. The most common side effects include: blood in the urine, bladder spasms, and urgency of urination. These symptoms are usually temporary and will subside in a few days or weeks.
Bottom Line: Enlarged prostate gland is a common condition that affects most men after age 50. Treatment options include medications, surgery and minimally invasive treatment using lasers. The laser treatment produces a rapid improvement in urine flow, a quick return to normal activities, short or no hospitalization.