New Treatment for Enlarged Prostates

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Dr. Samer Hijaz and Nurse Practitioner Katrina Brown of VIVA. Dr. Hijaz is one of the physicians who will perform prostate embolizations.

Dr. Samer Hijaz and Nurse Practitioner Katrina Brown of VIVA. Dr. Hijaz is one of the physicians who will perform prostate embolizations.

Prostate artery embolization is a new, minimally invasive treatment for men with severe cases of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) who have other conditions that make traditional surgery risky. Interventional radiologists with Virginia Interventional & Vascular Associates (VIVA) plan to offer the treatment locally, Medical Director R. Donald Doherty Jr., MD, said.

“The treatment is currently undergoing FDA approval and we are looking forward to providing it soon,” he added.

He noted that the group’s extensive interventional radiology expertise has been enhanced by the arrival of its newest physician, Samer Hijaz, MD. Dr. Hijaz participated in a number of prostate embolization procedures in research studies during his recent fellowship at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

BPH, or enlarged prostate, affects 50% of men ages 51 to 60 and an even greater percentage of men over 60. Symptoms can include frequent, urgent, difficult, or weak urination and the inability to completely empty the bladder, according to the Society for Interventional Radiology.

Urinary problems caused by BPH can sometimes be controlled by medication. More severe cases are traditionally treated using transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) surgery, a urological procedure in which a resectoscope is inserted through the tip of the penis to trim prostate tissue blocking urine flow. Some patients, however, are not good candidates for TURP.

“Sedation from general anesthesia during prostate surgery can be difficult for cardiac and respiratory patients, and there is an increased chance of bleeding for patients on blood thinners,” Dr. Hijaz explained.

Prostate artery embolization, by contrast, can be performed under local anesthesia. The interventional radiologist makes a small incision in the groin and uses specialized medical imaging – rotational angiography – to locate the artery feeding the prostate. The interventional radiologist threads a tiny tube inside the artery to release microscopic beads that temporarily block blood flow to the prostate, eventually causing the gland to shrink.

The procedure originated outside of the US and has been performed at US medical research centers for the past five years. Research to date indicates that prostate embolization is safe and effective, with a technical success rate of 80% and relief of symptoms in most cases. In the US, a promising new study on prostate embolization is expected to be published soon, Dr. Hijaz said.

Referring physicians who would like more information on the procedure may contact Dr. Doherty through the Radiologic Associates of Fredericksburg physician concierge service, at 1-855-RAF-LINE (1-855-723-5463), or email