The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is now endorsing a procedure called Prostate Artery Embolisation (PAE) for NHS use to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia.

The condition, which basically refers to a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate, affects more than a third of men over the age of 50, and can cause symptoms such as the need to pass urine more frequently or loss of bladder control.

While a number of treatments are already available to treat an enlarged prostate, including medication or surgery, they can have side effects and do not suit all patients, NICE noted.

PAE blocks the blood supply to the prostate with small particles, which causes the prostate tissue to shrink and die. It can be performed under local anaesthetic, which will help patients who cannot tolerate general anaesthetic, and can be completed in the outpatient setting.

The Institute first considered PAE back in 2013, but felt at the time that more evidence was needed to determine whether it was effective and safe, which was subsequently generated by the UK ROPE study.

“Results from the study show PAE can help large numbers of men suffering with the symptoms of an enlarged prostate,” said Dr Nigel Hacking, consultant interventional radiologist at University Hospital Southampton.

“It is a particularly good option for men who are not yet ready to undergo more invasive prostate surgery. Maintaining sexual function and fertility is one of its main strengths.”