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Enlarged Prostate: Transurethral Needle Ablation - Topic Overview

Transurethral needle ablation (TUNA) is used to treat an enlarged prostate gland (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH) with a needle-shaped device that delivers heat to very precise areas of the prostate. The device is inserted up the urethra inside a tube (catheter) that protects other tissues from being burned. The heat destroys specific areas that are blocking the flow of urine out of the bladder. This relieves BPH symptoms. The procedure does not require an overnight stay in the hospital.

A year after TUNA surgery, symptoms can be about 13 points lower on the American Urological Association (AUA) symptom index. For most men, that means a 60% reduction in symptoms. For example, if your symptom score is 25 (severe), it could be reduced to about 10 (moderate). With transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), symptoms can be reduced by about 85% in most men.1 But TUNA is less likely than TURP to cause complications.

Recommended Related to Prostate Enlargement/BPH

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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Needle ablation has minimal complications. The two most common are an inability to urinate (urinary retention) in the first 24 hours after surgery and pain while urinating. Sexual ability is generally not affected.2

The main advantages of this treatment are:

  • It can be done without an overnight stay in the hospital.
  • It has a short recovery time, although the symptoms may take longer to improve.
  • It has minimal side effects.

The main disadvantages of this treatment are:

  • You are more likely to need another surgery for BPH later.3
  • It may not work well for men who have large prostates.

Reports have warned that in a small number of cases TUNA has caused serious injuries and complications, including damage to the penis and urethra. Injuries have required urostomies, partial amputation of the penis, and other procedures. In December 2000, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about these injuries.

    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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