New steam treatment could offer hope to men with enlarged prostates

Middle-aged men who suffer from the common condition of an enlarged prostate could soon be spared surgery thanks to a new steam treatment.

The procedure, which can be done as a day-case under local anaesthetic or sedation, involves injecting small amounts of steam into the prostate.

It is expected to be given the green light for routine NHS use on Wednesday by health watchdog Nice (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence).

One in three men over the age of 50 suffer from symptoms of an enlarged prostate, which can include needing to visit the toilet more frequently and with more urgency and experiencing difficulty emptying their bladder.

Many men will undergo an operation to relieve the condition, called a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), but this can lead to complications such as bleeding, infection, incontinence and sexual dysfunction.

The steam treatment, called Rezum, avoids the need for invasive surgery and is said to carry fewer side effects.

Water vapour at a temperature of about 103C is injected into the prostate for between eight and 10 seconds, with the heat destroying some of the prostate tissue and reducing its size.

Professor Hashim Ahmed, chair in Urology at Imperial College London and a consultant at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, began trialling the treatment last year.

Speaking at the time, he said: "This treatment will not only be a better alternative for men facing a longer procedure with added recovery time but we can also offer it to those who are on life-long medication who opted not to have surgery because they were worried about side effects of traditional surgery."

A consultation document on the procedure published by Nice earlier this year made draft recommendations that stated current evidence was "adequate to support the use of this procedure provided that standard arrangements are in place for clinical governance, consent and audit".

The final guidance will be published on Wednesday.

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