Minimally Invasive Treatment for Enlarged Prostates

Columbia interventional radiologists are experts in prostate artery embolization, an emerging treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)—commonly known as an enlarged prostate. Although embolization is less well-known than medication and surgical options, prostate artery embolization is a minimally invasive technique that has been in use for the past decade. 

“In general, embolization procedures have been used for more than 40 years by interventional radiologists,” says David Sperling, MD, associate professor of radiology. “Though its use in the prostate is relatively recent, the concept is not new in medicine and interventional radiologists at Columbia are quite skilled at performing the procedure.”

When symptoms of BPH interfere with quality of life, men are usually treated first with medications, which may cause side effects that include dizziness, drowsiness, and decreased libido. The next step is often surgical, including a commonly used procedure that delivers electric current to the inside of the prostate from an endoscope inserted through the penis. Surgical patients are typically hospitalized and use a urinary catheter for several days after the procedure.

In contrast, prostate artery embolization is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that usually requires just a bandage and oral pain medication for recovery. Most men return to work in less than a week. During the procedure, an interventional radiologist uses X-ray and CT imaging to guide a catheter from an incision in the arm or leg to the blood vessels that supply the prostate. Tiny round beads—each the size of a grain of sand—are sent through the catheter and into the prostate-feeding vessels. The tiny beads embed in the vessels and block blood flow to the prostate, causing it to shrink. Recent studies have shown that urinary symptoms improve in close to 90% of patients who have the procedure, with many patients experiencing up to 10 years of good results.

Some men may not be good candidates for prostate artery embolization, but video and in-person consultations with Columbia interventional radiologists can determine the best treatment options.


Information: (212) 326-8874 or visit Columbia Radiology online at