Greater Boston Urology Blog

What is Prostate Artery Embolization (PAE)?

We recently announced the opening of our IR Centers at GBU. "IR" stands for interventional radiology, a medical specialty in which board-certified, fellowship-trained physicians (known as interventional radiologists) perform minimally invasive treatments using radiologic imaging for procedure guidance.

A popular IR procedure is prostate artery embolization (PAE) for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH.

BPH is a condition in which the prostate enlarges. As it enlarges, it can press on and block the urethra. For men, this can cause bothersome urinary symptoms, such as the following:

  • Frequent need to urinate both day and night
  • Weak or slow urinary stream
  • A sense that you cannot completely empty your bladder
  • Difficulty or delay in starting urination
  • Urgent feeling of needing to urinate
  • A urinary stream that stops and starts

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, "Symptoms related to BPH are present in about one in four men by age 55, and in half of 75-year-old men."

A wide variety of BPH treatments exist, from medications to surgery. Today, we're discussing prostate artery embolization for the treatment of BPH.

As with all content on the GBU blog, the following is meant to be educational only, not medical advice. Always consult a physician about your specific healthcare needs.

What is prostate artery embolization (PAE)?

PAE is a minimally invasive treatment that helps improve lower urinary tract symptoms caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

Who's a good candidate for prostate artery embolization?

Patients with bothersome BPH symptoms who don't want to undergo invasive surgery and/or who haven't had relief from medications are good candidates for PAE.

What are the advantages of prostate artery embolization (PAE)?

  • No surgical incision or device inserted into the urethra.
  • Performed in an outpatient setting under "twilight sleep" with no general anesthesia.
  • Painless procedure lasting approximately 1 hour.
  • Side effects are minimal and usually resolve within 1 to 3 days.
  • Very low complication rates and no reports of impotence or incontinence.
  • Symptom improvement occurs 2-3 weeks after the procedure.

How does the PAE procedure work?

PAE is performed by an interventional radiologist through a small catheter inserted into the artery in your wrist or groin. The interventional radiologist will then guide the catheter into the vessels that supply blood to your prostate.

Tiny round microspheres (particles) are injected through the catheter and into the blood vessels that feed your prostate to reduce its blood supply. Following this procedure, the prostate will begin to shrink, relieving and improving symptoms usually within days of the procedure.

See the video below for a quick demo.


Is PAE effective?

Yes! According to this article in the National Library of Medicine, "Many studies have shown clinical results that are comparable to the current surgical gold standard, TURP [transurethral resection of the prostate]. The use of PAE offers similar results with fewer complications and fewer side effects, while eliminating the need for general anesthesia or hospitalization."

Where is the PAE procedure available?

Interventional Radiology (IR) Centers are located throughout the US. The IR Centers at Greater Boston Urology is now open in Plymouth and is accepting BPH patients who are interested in the PAE procedure.

If you're a GBU patient, talk to your urologist about whether PAE is right for you. Or you can call or email the IR Centers at GBU directly: 508-731-4800 or GBU@IRCENTERS.COM.


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