With the ever-expanding elderly population in the United States, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) has become a widespread condition. Although surgical intervention (open prostatectomy and transurethral resection of the prostate) was the typical management approach for BPH in the past, other options currently include drug therapy and transurethral thermotherapy, a minimally invasive procedure that involves the targeting of heat deep within the prostate transition zone while cooling the surrounding anatomic structures with circulating water. Two thermotherapy devices - the Prostatron and the T3 transurethral thermoablation therapy catheter - have been studied in randomized, controlled clinical trials at the Mayo Clinic. Both devices were shown to be effective in a substantial subset of patients with BPH: symptom scores decreased, peak urinary flow rates increased, and total serum prostate-specific antigen levels increased, an indication of destruction of adenomatous tissue. All patients were able to complete the treatment without the need for general or regional anesthesia, and thermotherapy was associated with few postprocedural events. Although this therapeutic strategy is currently used selectively in patients with lateral lobe prostatic adenoma, improvements in technology and understanding of the thermoregulatory properties of the prostate should broaden the application of thermotherapy devices in the management of BPH.
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