Prostate Artery Embolization for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

UC San Diego Health is among the first medical centers in the region to offer men prostate artery embolization (PAE) for severe lower urinary tract symptoms caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia (an enlarged prostate). The minimally invasive procedure is an alternative to surgery.

What Is Prostate Artery Embolization?

PAE is a technique for blocking blood flow to the prostate by deploying microspheres into the prostate arteries. With reduced blood flow to the prostate, the prostate shrinks, relieving symptoms. 

The procedure involves inserting a tiny catheter into an artery in the upper thigh or wrist. The physician uses X-rays to guide the catheter to the prostate arteries. Microspheres are then released through the catheter into the prostate arteries, blocking blood flow to the gland.

Benefits of PAE

Prostate artery embolization is one among several treatment options for men with severe urinary tract symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate. You should discuss with your doctor what is most appropriate for you.

Some potential advantages of PAE include:

  • No hospitalization. The procedure is performed in an interventional radiology suite with the patient under conscious sedation. Patients are typically discharged three hours after the procedure.
  • Minimal pain. The procedure requires a small incision in the thigh or wrist only. Patients experience minimal discomfort during the procedure.
  • Few reported side effects. 

Who Is a Candidate for PAE?

Our interventional radiologist works closely with urologists to screen men who are most likely to benefit from the procedure.

Candidates for the procedure typically meet the following:

  • Are between the age of 50 and 85
  • Have lower urinary tract symptoms such as difficulty urinating, frequent urination or urinary retention requiring catheterization, caused by an enlarged prostate
  • Have tried but not responded to six months of medication therapy or have significant side effects from medication such as dizziness, fatigue or sexual dysfunction
  • Have been screened for prostate cancer risk, including a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test

In select cases, patients may undergo cystoscopy (endoscopy of the bladder), MR angiography or CT angiography to visualize arteries.

Research and Clinical Trials

UC San Diego Health has been involved in a clinical trial to establish the efficacy and safety of prostate artery embolization. Men that meet certain inclusion criteria may be eligible to receive care through participation in a clinical trial. Search for a clinical trial.


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