Robotic waterjet ablation therapy: A safe, effective treatment for lasting symptom relief of an enlarged prostate

Men's Health
Man watering his garden

As you get older, you go through a lot of changes. On the one hand, you may have more time to pursue new experiences. But you may also experience some unwanted physical changes. For men, a common physical change with aging is an enlarged prostate, also called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The prostate is the gland in charge of making some of the fluid that transports sperm during ejaculation.

"An enlarged prostate doesn't always cause problems," says Matthew Sterling, MD, a urologist on staff at Bryn Mawr Hospital. "But if it does, symptoms may include an inability to urinate, weak urinary flow, lack of control over urination or incontinence, pain with urination, and/or urinary frequency and nighttime urination. If left untreated, an enlarged prostate can lead to urinary tract infections, bladder stones or kidney issues."

For a long time, there were only a few treatment options — namely lifestyle changes, medication and surgery. These options can have negative side effects and may not be right for all men. Another option, robotic waterjet ablation therapy, or Aquablation®, is a safe, effective treatment for symptoms of an enlarged prostate with minimal side effects.

Robotic waterjet ablation therapy: Using the power of water to ease enlarged prostate symptoms

When you think of surgery, using jets of water might not immediately come to mind. But with Aquablation therapy, your surgeon will do exactly that. This technique isn’t new, but surgeons are now able to apply proven surgical techniques using new technology to treat enlarged prostate symptoms.

The therapy uses the AquaBeam® Robotic System to combine robotic technology, imaging and heat-free waterjets to remove excess prostate tissue. This is different from other techniques, which may only move tissue or treat the tissue without removing it.

"Because the prostate is accessed through the urethra (where urine passes through), no incisions are necessary. As a result, it provides significant, long-lasting symptom relief with lower risk to sexual function and continence." adds Brian Friel, MD, a urologist on staff at Bryn Mawr Hospital.

It’s the first surgical robot approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat urinary problems from an enlarged prostate. The therapy is available at Bryn Mawr Hospital, part of Main Line Health, where all procedures are planned and performed by urologists trained in the technique and experienced with minimally invasive treatment of an enlarged prostate.

There are two steps to Aquablation therapy:

  1. Creating a surgical map: Because every prostate is different, your surgeon will adapt the surgery to your body. Using a camera (called a cystoscope) and ultrasound imaging, your surgeon can view the entire prostate. Then, they’ll mark the parts of the prostate to be removed during the procedure.
  2. Removing excess prostate tissue: Based on the surgical map, your surgeon will use a robotic tool and a heat-free waterjet to remove prostate tissue. Because of the precision allowed by the camera and ultrasound imaging, they can avoid parts of the prostate that lead to complications.

Aquablation therapy vs. other treatments for an enlarged prostate

Typical treatment for an enlarged prostate can range from lifestyle changes to medication to surgery. Your options depend on the severity of your symptoms and other medical concerns.

If your symptoms are mild, your health care provider might suggest lifestyle changes, like using the bathroom on a timed schedule, not drinking too much fluid at one time and avoiding alcohol and caffeine, particularly after dinner. While these changes may be effective, they require you to adapt your lifestyle in ways that can be disruptive and burdensome. What’s more, they don’t usually improve severe symptoms.

Medications can also treat symptoms of an enlarged prostate. However, medications can take time to be effective. They can also come with side effects, like decreased sex drive.

In some cases, surgery may be recommended. Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) is a common and effective surgery for an enlarged prostate, during which a scope is inserted through the penis to remove the prostate tissue. But there are risks, including sexual dysfunction and incontinence.

Compared to TURP, Aquablation has a lower risk of side effects. This is because the combination of a camera and ultrasound imaging allows for remarkable precision, enabling the surgeon to avoid parts of the prostate that can cause these irreversible problems. This therapy also comes with a lower chance of needing secondary treatment for an enlarged prostate.

Robotic waterjet ablation therapy: Relief for those suffering from an enlarged prostate

An enlarged prostate may be common, but that doesn’t mean you need to suffer through its unfortunate side effects. For the millions of men who have an enlarged prostate that is disrupting their everyday lives, there are options, including Aquablation therapy.

If you’re seeking relief from an enlarged prostate, talk to your health care provider. Together, you can discuss the next steps to reduce your symptoms and help you get back to your life, symptom-free. Robotic waterjet ablation is available at Bryn Mawr Hospital.

Next steps:

Meet Matthew Sterling, MD
Meet Brian Friel, MD
Don’t suffer in silence. To learn about robotic waterjet ablation therapy (Aquablation) for treatment of an enlarged prostate, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (866.225.5654).