2 The condition, current treatments and procedure
2.1 Benign prostatic hyperplasia is common in older men. Stromal and epithelial cells increase in number, causing the prostate to increase in size. It often occurs in the periurethral region of the prostate, with large discrete nodules compressing the urethra. Symptoms include hesitancy during micturition, interrupted or decreased urine stream (volume and flow rate), nocturia, incomplete voiding and urinary retention.
2.2 Mild symptoms are usually managed conservatively. Drugs may also be used, such as alpha blockers and 5‑alpha-reductase inhibitors. If other treatments have not worked, then surgical options include transurethral resection of the prostate, transurethral vaporisation of the prostate, holmium laser enucleation of the prostate or prostatectomy (see the NICE guideline on lower urinary tract symptoms in men). Insertion of prostatic urethral lift implants has been introduced more recently as an alternative treatment for lower urinary tract symptoms secondary to benign prostatic hyperplasia. Potential complications of surgical procedures include bleeding, infection, strictures, incontinence and sexual dysfunction.
2.3 Prostate artery embolisation for benign prostate hyperplasia is usually done using local anaesthesia. Under X‑ray guidance, the prostate is approached through the left or right femoral artery. Super-selective catheterisation of the small prostatic arteries is done using fine microcatheters through the pelvic arteries. Embolisation involves the introduction of microparticles to completely block the prostatic vessels. Embolisation agents include polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) and other newer synthetic biocompatible materials.
2.4 The aim of prostate artery embolisation is to reduce the prostate's blood supply, causing some of it to undergo necrosis and shrink. It is common for patients to experience pelvic pain during and after the procedure. This does not usually last more than 1 to 3 days. The potential benefits of prostate artery embolisation compared with surgery include fewer complications, avoiding a general anaesthetic and it may be done as a day case procedure.