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Monday Medical: New treatment offers relief for men

Susan Cunningham/For Steamboat Today
Monday Medical
MondayMedical

If you go

What: Treatment options for an enlarged prostate (also called benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH) and urinary symptoms

When: 6 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 6

Where: Yampa Valley Medical Center Conference Room 1

As age increases, so does the likelihood of experiencing urinary issues.

From having to use the bathroom frequently to dealing with increased urgency and a weak stream, there are a range of issues many men begin to experience in their 50s or 60s. But there are also ways to alleviate these symptoms.

“People often think urinary issues are just part of aging, and to some degree, they are, but you don’t have to live with that,” said Dr. Clay Pendleton, general urologic surgeon in Steamboat Springs. “There are things that can be done in a minimally invasive fashion.”

For men, one of the key culprits in urinary issues is an enlarged prostate. The prostate gland, which naturally grows with age, sits around the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. As the prostate grows larger, it can squeeze the urethra, resulting in various issues.

“It impacts quality of life,” Pendleton said. “Some patients can’t sleep well, because they’re getting up every hour. Or maybe they’re up on the ski mountain, and they’re having to go to the bathroom every 30 minutes — that’s kind of miserable.”

Urinary tract infections may become common, and in more severe cases, damage to the bladder and kidneys can result.

Several treatments can help. For mild to moderate symptoms, Pendleton usually starts with medications that relax and open the urinary channel or that slowly shrink the prostate.

If medications don’t work or if symptoms are more severe, the next step is to consider a procedure.

In the past, men would choose from a minimally invasive TURP, or transurethral resection of the prostate, in which a surgeon trims excess prostate tissue that’s blocking the flow of urine; or a suprapubic prostatectomy, in which the central portion of the prostate is removed.

Now, there’s an additional option — a prostatic urethral lift, also known as the UroLift system. This five- to 10-minute procedure is minimally invasive, does not require an incision and allows patients to go home the same day.

“Basically, you’re tacking the two lateral lobes of the prostate with an anchor, then pushing them to the side so it opens up the urinary channel,” Pendleton said. “This is very quick and can be done under minimum sedation, sometimes even in the office.”

The UroLift is not intended to replace the other procedures — rather, it’s an alternative for certain patients. To be a candidate for this procedure, the patient’s prostate should weigh less than 80 grams and not have a large median lobe.

The UroLift was approved by the FDA a year ago and is supported by five years of clinical data. Pendleton is one of four doctors in Colorado offering the procedure and will soon be joined by Dr. Jamie VanOveren, also a urologist in Steamboat Springs.

“It’s nice for a small community to be on top of the technology,” Pendleton said. “The patients have been very satisfied with the results. We’ve seen a great response thus far.”

With a range of options for treating urinary issues, Pendleton strongly encourages both men and women who are having any symptoms to talk with their doctor.

“If you have something that bothers you, it can be addressed,” he said.

Susan Cunningham writes for Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at cunninghamsbc@gmail.com.


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