45° F

Health Beat: Shrinking prostates without surgery

Published On: Jul 01 2014 05:23:29 PM EDT   Updated On: Jul 01 2014 07:12:25 PM EDT

Many men over the age of 60 have problems with an enlarged prostate.

Ron Simmons spends most of his free time on the back of his Harley, but a few months ago, long rides were too painful for this 68-year-old.

"It was uncomfortable," Simmons said. "It wasn't enjoyable.

Simmons has benign prostatic hyperplasia, an enlarged prostate.


"Most of my problems were going to the bathroom, you know, trying to urinate," Simmons said. "That was difficult."

Medications stopped working and the only other option was an invasive surgery to cut or ablate the prostate. It could cause side effects like sexual dysfunction or urinary incontinence.

Dr. James Spies, Medstar Georgetown University Hospital, offered Simmons something new -- a non-surgical procedure called prostatic artery embolization.

"We put a catheter, a very thin tube, into the artery that feeds the prostate gland," Spies said.

Then, doctors inject tiny beads, called microspheres, in the arteries surrounding the prostate to block its blood supply.

"It decreases the size of the prostate and more importantly relieves the obstruction of urinary flow," Spies said.

Simmons was just the second patient at Georgetown to have the procedure. The relief was immediate and he's even planning a 10,000-mile ride this summer.

"There's so many more things I can do today because of that prostate," Simmons said.

Spies also stresses that this is not a treatment for prostate cancer, only an enlarged prostate.