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New treatment technique proves more effective for patients with a benign enlarged prostate gland

A new interventional radiology technique called prostate artery embolization is changing the lives of patients diagnosed with a benign enlarged prostate gland.
Interventional Radiologist Jafar Golzarian, MD, performs a new treatment technique called prostate artery embolization for patients with a benign enlarged prostate gland.

A new interventional radiology treatment technique is changing the lives of patients diagnosed with a benign enlarged prostate gland. 

The technique, called prostate artery embolization (PAE), involves the insertion of small particles into the prostate gland arteries via a catheter. The implanted materials decrease blood supply to the prostate, reducing its size and accompanying symptoms. The treatment was pioneered by University of Minnesota Health Interventional Radiologist Jafar Golzarian, MD, who sees patients at University of Minnesota Medical Center. Unlike other techniques to treat benign enlarged prostate symptoms, Golzarian’s approach is non-surgical and leaves few side effects.

Just ask Chuck Hietpas, one patient who has seen the benefits first-hand.

“I’ve experienced prostate issues going back to 2009,” Hietpas said. As his symptoms worsened, he realized it was affecting the quality of his daily life. 

Learn more about University of Minnesota Health Interventional Radiology services.

After a painful, acute urinary retention episode, his doctors suggested he get a trans-urethral resection of the prostate, an invasive and potentially painful procedure. Unwilling to commit to this option right away, Hietpas began researching alternatives, and found articles on PAE. Golzarian was one of only three care providers offering this technique, and the only one in Minnesota. 

“Very early on,” said Hietpas, “I decided that PAE was the route I wanted to take.”

Hietpas and his wife met with Golzarian at University of Minnesota Medical Center. 

“I can’t say enough good things about Mary Schooley [the Interventional Radiology Nurse Coordinator] or Dr. Golzarian,” Hietpas said. “They have been just fabulous to deal with. In terms of how they listen, how they explain, how they’re on top of things.”

On July 22, Hietpas underwent the PAE procedure. Now, he says, “life is livable again.” He is no longer up to use the bathroom several times a night, and feels freer to travel and enjoy everyday activities. His prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level, which had been as high as 10.4 in January, was at 6.16 in October 2015. PSA is a protein produced by the prostate gland. Prostate inflammation or enlargement often produced heightened levels of PSA. Elevated measurements can also be a sign of prostate cancer.

When asked if he would recommend the procedure to others, Hietpas is unequivocal. 

“You bet,” he said. “I’ve talked to a lot of people who are very interested in this procedure.” 

Leroy Blank is another very satisfied University of Minnesota Health patient. Having previously endured Cooled ThermoTherapy treatment (a non-surgical option that uses heat to reduce excess prostate tissue) for his prostate issues, Blank was eager to find a more effective, less invasive method. 

“I started reading the literature, and saw that [PAE] was being done in a few select places.” 

Despite apprehension from his urologist, who wasn’t supportive of the procedure and recommended other alternatives, Blank met with Golzarian. Ultimately, he opted to undergo the PAE.

He was pleasantly surprised immediately after the procedure, when he felt no pain.

“It was phenomenal,” he said. “The procedure blocks the arteries, and I thought the tissues would respond, but I did not feel any pain at all.” 

Like Hietpas, Blank has returned to only waking up once or twice during the night, and regained his sense of freedom and control over his daily life. He praises Golzarian’s knowledge and experience. As Hietpas did, he strongly encourages anyone with prostate problems to consider the procedure. 

“This is by far what people should be doing, no question.” he said. “I have my life back.”