The UroLift System: A Proven Therapy for Enlarged Prostate

April 13, 2017
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It’s a nuisance condition that plagues many men as they age. Benign prostatic hyperplasia, or enlarged prostate, affects around half of all men by the time they reach 60 and 90% of men older than 80.1 But treatments to alleviate BPH symptoms are readily available, including a proven treatment option that may be a perfect fit for some men.

The treatment, using the UroLift System, was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration in September 2013. The UroLift System treatment has been available in Australia for over ten years and in the United States for over five years, says Mehran Movassaghi, MD, a urologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center and medical director of the Men’s Health Center. It’s a straightforward treatment that provides rapid results.

BPH—more commonly called enlarged prostate—is a noncancerous condition caused by hormonal changes later in life. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland at the base of the bladder. Enlargement from BPH puts pressure on the urethra, narrowing or closing the urinary tract and making it hard to urinate. Men with BPH may urinate more frequently, have trouble going at all or experience incontinence.

Medications for BPH tend to work by either inhibiting prostate growth or relaxing the prostate to improve urinary function. But these medications can become less effective over time, and they can also cause side effects like erectile dysfunction.2

“The UroLift System treatment can be ideal for men who are unhappy with their medication because of sexual side effects or younger men who are sexually active that don’t want to take a pill for rest of their lives,” Dr. Movassaghi says.

The UroLift System uses small implants placed through the urethra, with the help of a camera, to access the prostate. There is no cutting, heating or removal of prostate tissue and sexual function is preserved.3 The implants lift the prostate, opening the urethra.

“We typically use anywhere from two to six implants, and this allows us to provide relief to the patient without heating, cutting or removing tissue,” Dr. Movassaghi says. “It’s a straightforward outpatient procedure that takes under an hour and can be done under local or general anesthesia.”

Dr. Movassaghi estimates that around 60% to 70% of the patients he sees with BPH are likely candidates for the UroLift System treatment.

Because the treatment is still relatively new, experts like Dr. Movassaghi can’t say if UroLift patients will experience any reduction in the efficacy of the treatment over the long term. Although the treatment is still relatively new, favorable clinical study data shows durability of the treatment to 5 years.

The device is considered permanent and it won’t interfere with any additional treatments for BPH should they be needed in the future.

Medicare covers the treatment when it’s medically necessary.

“Prostates grow over time, and every patient’s growth rate is different,” he explains. “But we can look at the data up to five years and see significant improvement in flow rate and quality of life.”

For most men, the UroLift System treatment is easy and effective. Patients are often out of the office within a few hours. Dr. Movassaghi’s patients typically go home with a catheter that is removed after 48 hours. Most patients can return to their usual activities within a few days.

Most common side effects are mild to moderate and include pain or burning with urination, blood in the urine, pelvic pain, urgent need to urinate and/or the inability to control the urge. Most symptoms resolved within two to four weeks after the procedure.

  1. Berry et al J Urol 1984
  2. AUA BPH Guidelines 2003
  3. Roehrborn J Urol 2013 LIFT Study