Vascular and interventional radiology utilizes minimally-invasive image-guided procedures to diagnose and treat several men's health concerns. These procedures typically have less risk, pain, and recovery time compared to open surgery.
The interventional radiologists at MedStar Harbor Hospital are able to treat two common men’s health issues:
What is a Varicocele?
A varicocele is an enlargement of the veins within the scrotum. A varicocele is similar to a varicose vein you might see in your leg. A varicocele may produce no signs or symptoms, or it may cause pain and discomfort.
Not all men with varicoceles will require treatment, however, if you experience pain or swelling in your scrotum, discover a mass on your scrotum, or you're having problems with fertility, contact your doctor. A varicocele can cause:
- Shrinking and softening of the affected testicle. This allows blood to pool in the veins, which can cause increased pressure in the veins and exposure to toxins in the blood that may cause testicular damage.
- Infertility. Varicoceles can affect sperm formation, mobility, and function.
What are the Treatments for Varicoceles?
Varicoceles can be treated with open surgery or a non-surgical procedure called varicocele embolization.
Varicocele embolization is a minimally invasive procedure that provides relief of symptoms caused by a varicocele. During the procedure, the doctor will use a catheter to inject small particles and/or permanent coils into the veins draining the testicles, causing a blockage. By blocking the blood flow, the varicocele is repaired.
What is Prostate Enlargement?
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or an enlarged prostate, is a condition that affects many older men. The enlargement of the prostate blocks the flow of urine through the urethra. Over time, the bladder muscle may begin to contract even when it contains small amounts of urine, causing the need to urinate more frequently. Eventually, the bladder muscle cannot overcome the narrowed urethra, and urine remains in the bladder.
Symptoms of enlarged prostate can include:
- A weak or slow urinary stream
- A feeling of incomplete bladder emptying
- Difficulty starting urination
- Frequent urination
- Frequent disturbed sleep to urinate
- Straining to urinate
- Returning to urinate minutes after finishing
Prostate enlargement can put men at risk for developing urinary tract infections. Other serious problems can develop over time, such as bladder stones, blood in the urine, and incontinence.
What are the Treatments for Prostate Enlargement?
A range of treatments are available to relieve enlarged prostate symptoms, including medications, minimally-invasive office procedures, and surgery. The size of your prostate gland, you age, and overall health may factor into treatment decisions.
Prostate artery embolization is a minimally invasive procedure that provides relief of prostate enlargement symptoms by decreasing blood flow to the prostate. An interventional radiologist will place a catheter in an artery in the upper thigh or wrist. Then small beads are injected into the arteries that bring blood to the prostate. The beads restrict blood flow to the prostate, causing it to shrink and alleviating symptoms.
Embolization is a highly effective way of controlling blood flow and is much less invasive than open surgery. Many men are able to return to daily activities within a few days.