A new study out of Pune, India, suggests that thulium laser may be effective for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The treatment may be useful for reducing tissue with minimal blood loss, and has also been associated with a drop in prostate specific antigen (PSA). The report, “Thulium laser enucleation of the prostate is a safe and a highly effective modality for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia — Our experience of 236 patients,” appeared in the journal Urology Annals.
As men age, their prostates grow, often leading to BPH. Although this disease — common in aging societies — can have troubling symptoms, it is not life-threatening, nor does it cause cancer. Symptoms may include problems urinating, weakness, infection, reduced kidney function, or bladder stones.
PSA is associated with BPH, which is found in about half of men ages 51-60. Although BPH is usually a benign condition, it still requires treatment. Effective treatments for reducing the size of the prostate and that have minimal side effects are greatly needed.
In the current study, a single surgeon treated 236 patients with BPH with a thulium laser — a laser that emits a wave length of 1,927 nm that is used for prostate surgery. The surgeries took place between March 2010 and September 2014.
The researchers evaluated the study subjects for BPH using “digital rectal examination, uroflowmetry, IPSS, prostate-specific antigen (PSA), blood and urine routine tests, abdominal usage with transrectal ultrasonography (TRUS), and TRUS guided biopsies.”
The thulium laser was evaluated as being an effective procedure by the researchers, with a comparable hospital stay needed relative to other types of procedures that are used to reduce BPH. Blood loss was described as minimal by the researchers, although the study did not appear to contain a direct control group for comparison. Most patients (92.3 percent) stayed in the hospital 24 to 36 hours, with fewer (7.6 percent) staying for 36 to 48 hours. PSA levels dropped by 68 percent after four to six weeks.
In their study report, the investigators concluded that “thulium laser is a safe and highly effective laser in terms of blood loss, speed of tissue resection, drop in serum PSA, and versatility of prostatic resection.”
Researchers and companies continue to develop new lasers that selectively remove tissue with minimal damage to the surrounding tissue. The thulium laser is a new technology that could aid in the treatment of BPH. Additional research, including a control comparison, could be useful for assessing the use of the laser for BPH compared to other surgical techniques.