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Information on Common Tests to Reveal an Accurate Diagnosis of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

A diagnosis of benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, is common in older men. In fact, approximately half of all males in their 50s exhibit symptoms consistent with an enlarged prostate. BPH is an age-related medical condition in which an enlarged prostate impedes the flow of urine. Specifically, a prostate that grows too big can constrict the urethra and prevent urine from exiting the body normally. Though generally not dangerous, BPH can be a highly unpleasant medical condition to live with. A man with BPH may find it difficult to start urinating, be unable to empty his bladder fully, and/or wake up to urinate several times throughout the night.  

Because many BPH symptoms overlap with medical conditions that are much more serious – like cancer – an accurate diagnosis can only be made after a thorough evaluation. Testing for BPH can include the following:

  • Digital rectal exam – In this procedure, the doctor inserts a lubricated gloved finger into the rectum of the patient to assess the size, shape, and firmness of the prostate directly.
  • Transrectal ultrasound – In this procedure, the doctor inserts an ultrasound probe into the patient’s rectum to provide an accurate measurement of the prostate, which helps determine the best course of treatment.
  • BPH Symptom Score Index – The patient can be asked to complete a questionnaire called the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS), developed by the American Urological Association, to better understand the nature and severity of his symptoms. It consists of seven questions designed to assess urinary problems over the course of the preceding month. The patient’s answers are then tabulated, and a score is assigned.
  • Blood and urine tests – These tests can be used to rule out cancer and prostatitis (prostate infection).
  • Urodynamic testing – The patient may be asked to undergo this test for the purpose of measuring urine flow, urine volume, bladder pressure and post-void residual (PVR). This test can also be used to measure the function of the bladder and confirms whether the bladder is blocked by an enlarged prostate.
  • Cystoscopy – A small scope, approximately 0.25 inches in diameter, is inserted into the urethra to visualize the urethra (urine tube in the penis) and the bladder. This test is used to ensure there are no other disease processes causing urine blockage such as bladder stones or tumors.

All of these tests, if necessary, are performed as quick procedures in a urologist’s office and do not require a hospital stay.

Receiving a diagnosis of benign prostatic hyperplasia is the first step on the road to effective treatment. Tampa General Hospital offers a cutting-edge, minimally invasive procedure called prostrate artery embolization (PAE) that requires less sedation than traditional prostate surgery and has been shown to have fewer side effects, including not requiring a urinary catheter. PAE is ideal for men who have a significantly enlarged prostate or a prostate size that is considered higher risk for traditional TURP.

Call (813) 844-5072 to speak with our PAE program coordinator or fill out our online form to begin the evaluation process to determine your candidacy for PAE.