Stents to Treat Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

These plastic or metal spring-like devices are placed in the urethra via a catheter to keep the urethra open. This option is used most often to treat BPH in elderly men with acute urinary retention who are in poor overall health and unable to withstand more aggressive BPH treatments such as TURP.

The primary advantages of a stent are

  • the device can be placed in about 15 minutes under spinal anesthesia
  • men can leave the hospital the same day or the next morning
  • long-term catheterization is not required
  • the recovery time is short

The downside is that patients may have bothersome urinary symptoms (urgency, frequency, or painful urination) for days or weeks after the procedure. Other concerns include the need for precise positioning of the stent within the urethra and the possibility of mineral deposits (stones) forming around the stent. In addition, little is known about the long-term effects of stents. If necessary, a stent can be removed, in most instances without damaging the urethra.

Investigational Treatments

Several other treatment approaches for benign prostatic hyperplasia are being investigated. These include injecting scientific-grade alcohol into the prostate through the urethra. This alcohol-ablation technique reduces prostate volume by coagulating and destroying tissue.

Excess prostate tissue also can be destroyed using focused bursts of high-intensity ultrasound energy. More recently, researchers have begun testing injections of botulinum toxin type A (Botox) into the prostate, with encouraging early results.

Publication Review By: H. Ballentine Carter, M.D.

Published: 12 Apr 2011

Last Modified: 23 Oct 2014