Benign Prostatic HyperplasiaBenign prostatic hyperplasia, or an enlarged prostate, is a common medical condition in older men. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) occurs when the prostate becomes enlarged and prevents the lower urinary tract from functioning properly. The prostate is a walnut-sized organ in the male reproductive system that secretes a fluid vital to keeping sperm protected following ejaculation. It is located just below the bladder and encircles part of the urethra.
A natural result of getting older, benign prostatic hyperplasia occurs in approximately 50% of men between the ages of 51 and 60, and in as many as 90% of men over the age of 80.
Not all men are at the same risk of developing BPH. Besides aging, other factors that heighten the risk include:
- A family history of BPH
- Heart disease
- Lack of physical activity
Benign prostatic hyperplasia can cause the prostate to swell and pinch the urethra. As a result, this part of the urinary tract becomes partially obstructed and is unable to let urine pass in a normal fashion. Men with BPH often find themselves:
- Frequently having to urinate
- Having their sleep disrupted by the need to urinate
- Straining during urination
- Unable to start urinating
- Dribbling after urinating
- Unable to make it to the bathroom in time
There are several tests that can be used to help diagnose benign prostatic hyperplasia. These include:
- A urinary flow test to gauge the strength and amount of urine flow
- Postvoid residual volume test to see if the bladder can empty completely
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test to screen for increased PSA levels
- Transrectal ultrasound to take measurements of the prostate
Medication to improve symptoms and surgery to address urinary dysfunction are the most common treatment approaches for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Tampa General Hospital’s ENT & Urology Institute offers an innovative procedure called prostate artery embolization, or PAE, that is clinically shown to address the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia while significantly reducing the risk of side effects associated with traditional BPH surgery. This procedure is minimally invasive and is performed on an outpatient basis, requiring less than six hours at the hospital.