Coaldale, PA – Men who are bothered by urinary symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate have a new safe and effective treatment option that preserves sexual function: the Urolift System. Zachary Piotrowski, MD, a urologist at St. Luke’s Miners Campus, has been trained in the minimally invasive procedure and makes it available to his patients with bothersome benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland in men that sits below the bladder and surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. As men age, the prostate can become enlarged, a condition known as BPH. Indeed, BPH affects up to three-quarters of men in their 60s and up to 90 percent of men in their 70s and 80s. “It is a pretty prevalent problem as men get older,” Dr. Piotrowski said.
Zachary Piotrowski, MD
Symptoms of BPH include frequent urination, especially at night, urgency to urinate, an inability to urinate, leaking of urine and discomfort. Left untreated, BPH can lead to advanced problems such as urinary retention and put men at increased risk of urinary tract infections and kidney stones.
Until recently, treatment options were medication or surgery that cuts the prostate tissue to open urinary blockage. Urolift came on the market and was approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration about five years ago.
Some men don’t like taking medication daily and find it can affect sexual function, Dr. Piotrowski said. Invasive surgery appears to work better than medication but it, too, can cause urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction, he said.
Implants have very few side effects
The Urolift System is an excellent alternative to drug therapy or invasive surgery because it provides meaningful relief from symptoms rather quickly, has very few side effects, and maintains sexual function, Dr. Piotrowski said.
Some men can have BPH and no symptoms or symptoms that they can live with. However, in many men, the symptoms can be bothersome and affect the quality of their life, Dr. Piotrowski said. He began offering the option to his patients who have bothersome symptoms in 2016 when he felt the data supporting it was convincing.
Dr. Piotrowski performs the procedure in the operating room at Miners. It takes about 30 minutes while the patient is sedated. “We do it under anesthesia with the patient asleep for their comfort,” Dr. Piotrowski said. During the procedure, implants are inserted through the urethra and placed in the lobes of the prostate. The permanent implants lift and hold prostate tissue out of the way of the urethra. They work like tiebacks on a window curtain.
Patients go home with a catheter and come back the next day to have it removed. Men can expect that they can return to work and their normal activities just 24 hours after undergoing the procedure, Dr. Piotrowski said.
Side effects, which include some frequency and urgency to urinate as well as mild pelvis pain, usually subside within two to five weeks. “Patients are pretty satisfied with the results,” Dr. Piotrowski said. “It improves their quality of life with little investment and risk.” Patients seem to have more drastic improvement with Urolift than medication, he said.
The procedure is covered by Medicare and most insurances.
Because Urolift has been available for five years, “we know that patients have the potential to get at least five years out of it, but it may be more,” Dr. Piotrowski said.
BPH is diagnosed with a rectal examination and common tests including urinalysis, a urine study flow, cystoscopy or transrectal ultrasound.
About Dr. PiotrowskiDr. Piotrowski graduated from Muhlenberg College and Drexel University College of Medicine and completed residencies with Temple University Hospital and Fox Chase Cancer Center. He has advanced training in minimally invasive techniques including robotic and laparoscopic approaches.
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About St. Luke’s
Founded in 1872, St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) is a non-profit, regional, fully integrated and nationally recognized network providing services at seven hospitals and more than 270 outpatient sites. The network’s service area includes Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Schuylkill, Bucks, Montgomery, Berks and Monroe counties in Pennsylvania and in Warren County in New Jersey. Dedicated to advancing health education, St. Luke’s operates the nation’s oldest School of Nursing and 23 graduate medical educational programs and is considered a major teaching hospital, the only one in the region. In partnership with Temple University, St. Luke’s created the region’s first Medical School. Repeatedly, including 2017, St. Luke’s has earned Truven’s 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital designation as well as 50 Top Cardiovascular program in addition to other honors for clinical excellence. St. Luke’s is a multi-year recipient of the Most Wired award recognizing the breadth of St. Luke’s information technology applications such as electronic medical records, telehealth, online scheduling and pricing information. St. Luke’s is also recognized as one of the state’s lowest cost providers in comparison to major teaching hospitals and other health systems.