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Enlarged Prostate: Laser Therapies - Topic Overview

Several laser methods for treating an enlarged prostate gland (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH) are now being used. Laser therapy uses a laser beam to remove the part of the prostate that is blocking the urethra. The procedure is done under either a general or spinal anesthetic. Most men who have laser treatment of BPH are able to leave the hospital the same or the next day.

While several laser methods are used, in general they all either sear (laser ablation) or vaporize (laser vaporization) the prostate tissue.

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Enlarged Prostate and Your BPH Symptoms Score

The Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH) Symptom Score Index can help your doctor understand how severe enlarged prostate symptoms are. If your total score is less than seven, your symptoms are considered mild. Higher scores indicate more severe symptoms. Your doctor can discuss your scores with you -- and what they indicate about your need for treatment. Use the following point scale to answer each of the questions. Total the score from all the questions. 0 = Not at all 3 = About...

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  • As the seared tissue heals, it shrinks, dead tissue falls off, and the blockage is reduced. This may require several days.
  • With vaporization, a channel is immediately opened, allowing the free flow of urine.

Studies comparing laser methods with transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) have found that:

  • Laser therapies improve symptoms about the same as TURP.1, 2
  • Laser therapies improve quality of life about as well as TURP.3
  • Compared to men who have TURP, men who have a laser therapy have a shorter hospital stay.4
  • Men who have a laser therapy need to have another treatment more often than men who have TURP.3

Other things to think about include the following:

  • Some men may choose laser therapy because of the shorter hospital stay, shorter time with a urinary catheter, and lower risk of complications. But discomfort during urination lasts longer after laser surgery.
  • Laser therapies are newer than other treatments for BPH, so there isn't as much evidence on long-term results. Men who have laser therapy for BPH may be more likely to need another treatment than men who have an older treatment, like transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP).

Prostate surgery using a laser may not be available in all hospitals.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 05, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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