Leading-edge treatment for enlarged prostate that is minimally invasive, preserves much of the prostate, and has a quick recovery period. Greater than 90% of patients see significant improvement.

Prostate artery embolization (PAE) is a new treatment option for men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as an enlarged prostate gland. It is especially promising for patients that have failed medication therapy or surgery, or prefer to avoid surgery.

How does PAE work to shrink the prostate?

Enlarged prostate PAE 1

1. When the prostate is enlarged, as shown, it constricts the urethra making urination difficult. PAE is a minimally invasive way of reducing the size of the prostate.

Catherization PAE 2

2. The procedure begins with the insertion of a catheter into the femoral artery at the groin. The catheter is advanced through the blood vessels until reaching the arteries of the prostate.

Embolization beads PAE 3

3. Small beads are released through the catheter into the small blood vessels that supply prostate, blocking the flow of blood.

Embolization beads PAE 4

4. This procedure is done on both sides.

Post PAE Prostate PAE 5

5. With a lowered blood supply, the prostate shrinks over time and there is less pressure on the urethra, allowing urine to flow freely.

Frequently asked questions about enlarged prostate and prostate artery embolization

What are the most common symptoms of an enlarged prostate?

  • Frequent urination at night
  • Frequent urination that often produces only a small amount of urine
  • Hesitant or interrupted urine stream
  • Leaking or dribbling urine
  • Sudden and urgent need to urinate
  • Weak urine stream
  • Feeling like the bladder is not completely empty after urinating
  • Occasional pain when urinating
  • Having to rush to the bathroom suddenly after the urge to urinate
  • Not being able to urinate at all due to obstruction
Enlarged prostate artery embolization

Overgrowth of prostate tissue can obstruct the urethra, leading to discomfort and difficulty urinating.

What can I expect during my evaluation for prostate artery embolization?

When you visit the ARA interventional clinic, you will be asked to fill out a short questionnaire, give a health history and get a physical examination.

You can make steps toward treatment right now getting in touch with our interventional coordinators at the contacts below. They will discuss candidacy for prostate artery embolization (PAE) with you. After this, you will meet with the interventional radiologist who will discuss your treatment options and pre-procedure tests.  Patients will also need a referral to a urologist if they do not currently have one.

What tests may be needed prior to having the procedure?

The patient will receive a CT study of the pelvis and possibly other imaging as required.

Do I need to have general anesthesia for the procedure?

Patients are given a sedative medication for the procedure, similar to that given for a colonoscopy, which is often referred to as “twilight sleep.” There is no need for general anesthesia. The procedure is not considered painful and some patients elect to have no sedation.

How is the procedure performed?

To perform PAE, surgeons guide a catheter through an artery in the groin to deposit tiny beads in the vessels supplying blood to the prostate. With the blood supply blocked, the organ shrinks, decreasing the pressure on the urethra that causes symptoms.

Will an overnight stay in the hospital be required?

Most often patients are discharged from the hospital three hours after the procedure, but sometimes it may be necessary to stay overnight.

Will I need a foley catheter or catheter inserted into the penis?

Generally a catheter inserted into the penis is not required.

Does it work?

Results are very promising with greater than 90 percent of patients seeing extreme improvement. Approximately 7 percent of patients see moderate improvement and 1 to 2 percent may see no improvement.

Will my insurance cover this procedure?

Each plan is different, so check with your provider. Generally, insurance companies will pay for prostate embolization if they cover prostate surgery, but this is not always the case.

After your consultation, if you require insurance pre-certification for the procedure from your insurance provider, ARA can assist you.

Can the procedure be repeated if my symptoms return?

Yes. Occasionally, symptoms may return and if so PAE can be repeated.

For more information, please contact interventional case coordinators at 512.467.9729. Patient and physicians can fax materials to 512.343.9099.

Video about prostate artery embolization

The UNC Center for Heart and Vascular Care has produced an explanatory video about prostate artery embolization.

Articles on prostate artery embolization

Medscape-Prostate Artery Embolization Safe and Effective

Science Daily-Prostate Embolization Relieves Nighttime Waking

Science Daily-New Treatment for Enlarged Prostate