Understanding Laser Prostate Surgery

Posted on: 18 June 2017


Enlargement of the prostate gland, otherwise referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), is a non-cancerous enlargement or growth of the prostate gland. It is the most common disease of the prostate gland, affecting mostly older men. The prostate gland anatomically surrounds the top part of the urethra. As the prostate gland enlarges, it makes the urethra narrower, causing urinary obstructive symptoms such as urinary hesitancy or dribbling flow of urine.

Not all men with BPH experience symptoms, but those who do may notice that their symptoms get progressively worse over time if not treated. Oral medications may help men with moderate symptoms and in some cases, treatment may not be required if symptoms are mild. Surgery is often the recommended option for men whose symptoms are very severe or unresponsive to medical therapy.

The conventional surgery method of treatment is the Trans Urethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP), but this method is often accompanied by heavy bleeding, both during and after surgery, and sometimes necessitates blood transfusion with long hospital stays.

Recent technological advancement in prostate surgery has introduced less invasive treatment options associated with shorter hospital stays and faster recovery. Laser prostate surgery removes the enlarged prostate tissue with heat and this often causes less bleeding than the standard surgical methods of removing the gland.

The Holmium laser method works well in reducing urinary symptoms, either by the enucleation technique or by the resection of the gland. A new laser procedure involves the use of a state of the art green light laser. The green light laser surgery, also known as Photoselective Vaporisation of the Prostate (PVP) is a minimally invasive procedure, and it works by using high power laser energy to evaporate the enlarged prostate tissue.

The laser energy is specifically absorbed by the blood inside the prostate tissue, causing it to vaporise and open up the previously constricted urethra so that an improved flow of urine is established. One key advantage of this procedure over the conventional TURP is that it causes significantly less bleeding because the laser seals the blood vessels underneath the area being vaporised.

The procedure is suitable for men whose symptoms are severe enough to warrant surgery and those not responding to medical therapy. It is particularly helpful in men who are on blood thinning drugs (anticoagulants) as it reduces the risk of uncontrolled bleeding during and after the procedure.

Generally, urinary catheters come off within 24 hours of the procedure if normal urine flow is established and patients can return to their normal activities within a very short period. It also gives rise to fewer complications when compared to conventional surgical procedures.

Laser surgery for the treatment of BPH is available in Australia but not all hospitals offer this treatment. The green light laser treatment is covered by the private health insurance.