A revolutionary treatment for thousands of men suffering from a common prostate condition is to be made available on the NHS.
It will end the need for invasive surgery under general anaesthetic and reduce the risk of sexual dysfunction, including impotence.
And instead of recovering in a hospital for several days, the 15-minute procedure allows patients to return home after just a few hours.
It will end the need for invasive surgery under general anaesthetic and reduce the risk of sexual dysfunction, including impotence [File photo]
It is expected to save the health service tens of millions of pounds, not only by reducing the cost of treating enlarged prostates but by avoiding the often debilitating side effects linked to current treatments.
The UroLift procedure is currently available in only about half of the hospitals in England, but the Government this week announced it will be included in a £2 million fast-track scheme to increase the availability of promising new therapies to NHS patients.
More than 20,000 men a year opt to undergo trans-urethral resection of the prostate (TURP) surgery to remove part of the prostate.
Drugs to ease the condition can cause a loss of libido and impotence.
The UroLift procedure is currently available in only about half of the hospitals in England, but the Government this week announced it will be included in a £2 million fast-track scheme [File photo]
In contrast, the UroLift procedure is carried out under a local anaesthetic and involves surgeons moving the enlarged prostate aside so it no longer restricts the flow of urine through the urethra. The prostate is then ‘anchored’ into place using tiny, permanent implants.
Patients are able to leave hospital the same day and have a far lower risk of side effects.
Analysis by Imperial College Health Partners found that 70,000 additional hospital visits were required for men having TURP surgery between 2009 and 2015, and 14 per cent were back on their medication within a year.
In comparison, side effects following UroLift are mild and require no hospital treatment, and just four per cent needed to start taking drugs again within a year. The analysis concluded that the new treatment could save the NHS £27 million by driving down complication rates alone.
The uncomfortable condition, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, affects nearly all men over the age of 50, although to different degrees of severity. The cause is unknown, although it is thought to be linked to hormonal changes as men age.
It causes the chestnut-sized prostate gland which surrounds the neck of the bladder to swell and put pressure on the bladder and the urethra, making it difficult to pass urine.
Consultant urologist Neil Barber, from Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, was the first surgeon to offer UroLift in the UK.
He said the benefits to patients and the NHS were ‘very clear’, adding: ‘This is an effective day case procedure that, for the first time, preserves sexual function; we could offer most patients the likely prospect of going home catheter-free; and they would experience a rapid improvement in symptoms and a return to normal activity within days rather than weeks.’
It is expected to save the health service tens of millions of pounds, not only by reducing the cost of treating enlarged prostates but by avoiding the often debilitating side effects linked to current treatments [File photo]
The procedure had also improved waiting times for other patients, he said. ‘We have been able to relocate the site of operation from the classical operating theatre to a procedure or minor ops room.’
Justin Hall, vice-president of Teleflex, whose subsidiary NeoTract developed the UroLift procedure, said the company was ‘humbled and honoured’ to be included on the Government’s fast-track scheme.
Gary Keen, from Totnes, Devon, had the UroLift operation in April and was able to travel to his 60th birthday celebrations the following day. He said: ‘It was brilliant. There was no bleeding at all afterwards, just a little bit of discomfort.’