New Urology Procedures Giving Relief to Veterans - VA Salt Lake City Health Care System
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New Urology Procedures Giving Relief to Veterans

Doctor in front of image of prostate

Dr. William Brant and the Urology staff at George E. Wahlen VA Medical Center are providing two new procedures to Veterans suffering from enlarged prostate.

By Bruce Sperry and Jeremy M. Laird
Friday, December 27, 2019

Vietnam Veteran Phil Gonzalez planned his life around his proximity to a rest room. The 69-year-old lived with the fear of not making it to the toilet in time and his sleep was restless to say the least— getting up numerous times throughout the night to use the restroom.

Gonzalez, like millions of other men over 50, suffered from lower urinary tract infection symptoms (LUTS) secondary to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)—commonly, referred to as an enlarged prostate.

Two new procedures at VA Salt Lake City Health Care System are giving Veterans suffering from LUTS new hope.

Most male Veterans will need to see a urologist at some point in their life, according to Dr. William Brant, Urologist at VA Salt Lake City. 40-million men in the United States alone are affected by an enlarged prostate, with more than 40 percent of men over 50 and 80 percent of men over 70 experiencing various levels of symptoms.

Those symptoms can range from irritative to obstructive to dangerous. On the irritative side, men experience frequent urination, strong urgency to urinate, getting up multiple times at night, and sometimes burning or pain urinating. Veterans experiencing obstructive symptoms have trouble initiating stream, pushing to urinate, weak stream, feeling that they have not completely emptied or inability to empty their bladder, and feeling like they need to go back to the restroom and finish the job. If not treated, men can experience a deterioration of overall bladder health where the bladder may just stop working. This could ultimately lead to catheter dependency, urinary incontinence, bladder stones, and Urinary Tract infections.

Gonzalez’s symptoms were on the irritative side, but LUTS was still affecting his quality of life, and he wanted to change that.

In the past, treating LUTS would mean potentially taking medication for the rest of your life or surgery. Both have numerous side-effects and drawbacks for Veterans.  Men often stop taking the medication or only take it periodically and not as recommended by their doctor. Surgery can have complications and can include hospital stays. Both surgery and medication can have sexual-side effects. Given all this—VA Salt Lake’s urology staff started looking for alternatives.

“What we were originally looking for is something that would give us the best chance of being able to treat all comers. That can be done in clinic and comfortably, and give good results without the side effects,” said Brant.

They found a solution in two new procedures-- UroLift® and Rezum™.

“What’s nice about both of these is they really avoid the side-effects-- particularly the sexual side-effects. And they are a onetime deal,” said Brant.  

Both UroLift® and Rezum™ are in-clinic procedures. The procedures themselves are fast and the patient is awake for the entirety—though some patients are given local anesthesia for minor pain and mild medication for anxiety. 

UroLift® uses small implants to lift and hold prostate tissue out of the way of the urinary tract—and works almost immediately after procedure. Rezum™ uses steam to kill prostate cells. The body naturally removes the dead cells, shrinking the prostate and opening the urinary tract.   Patients start to see the effects within a few weeks of the procedure and see peak effect about 6 months after the procedure.  The shape of a man’s prostate dictates the method a doctor will use.

Gonzalez received the Rezum™ treatment. He is now sleeping through the night, can sit through a church service without heading to the restroom, and no longer plans his day around locating the nearest restroom.

“When I have something to drink,” said Gonzalez, “I no longer have to hurry home or hurry to the hospital. I think it’s a great. It’s made me so happy.”

If you are Veteran suffering from an enlarged prostate, contact your VA urologist to find out if either of these two new procedures are appropriate for you.

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