As men age, their prostates grow. Sometimes, the organ grows to the point that urination becomes difficult. And left untreated, benign prostate enlargement can become a serious condition.
In the past, advanced cases could be treated only through invasive surgery. But thanks to new technology at Holston Valley Medical Center, area men with benign prostate enlargement have the option of a holmium laser prostatectomy.
“For the last 100 years, the medical community has looked for new and better ways to cool, warm, radiate or operate on the prostate,” said James Herman, MD, the only physician in Tennessee who performs laser prostatectomies. “So far, this is one of the best.”
In a laser prostatectomy, the physician reaches the prostate via the bladder through a catheter. A camera and scope are run through the catheter to allow the physician to see the prostate, and a laser is then inserted to eliminate the excess growth.
“This procedure is part of a continuum of treatments available at Wellmont Holston Valley,” Dr. Herman said. “When initial treatments, like drugs, are not appropriate, this is a minimally invasive procedure that offers several advantages over traditional surgery.”
Traditional prostate surgery usually requires a patient to stay one to two days in the hospital, followed by another six weeks of “light-lifting” recovery time. Patients also experience intermittent bleeding for up to six weeks after the surgery.
A laser prostatectomy, though, is an outpatient procedure with a lower rate of complications. Patients can go home the day of the procedure and usually return to normal activities two weeks later. Patients also experience less bleeding, an important factor for patients with heart problems or other conditions that require blood-thinning medications.
In the six months he has offered the procedure, Dr. Herman has performed nearly 30 laser prostatectomies, all with positive results.
“This procedure is not right for all patients,” Dr. Herman said, adding that the size of the prostate is often the determining factor in what treatment is appropriate. “But this is an excellent tool to complement what we already offer.”