In May 1996, the FDA approved the Prostatron®, a device that uses microwaves to heat and destroy excess prostate tissue. In a procedure called transurethral microwave thermotherapy (TUMT), the Prostatron sends computer-regulated microwaves through a catheter to heat selected portions of the prostate to at least 111 degrees Fahrenheit. A cooling system protects the urinary tract during the procedure.
A similar microwave device, the Targis® System, received FDA approval in September 1997. Like the Prostatron, the Targis System delivers microwaves to destroy selected portions of the prostate and uses a cooling system to protect the urethra. A heat-sensing device inserted in the rectum helps monitor the therapy.
Both of these procedures take about 1 hour and can be performed on an outpatient basis without general anesthesia. Neither form of microwave BPH surgery has been reported to lead to impotence or incontinence.
Although microwave therapy does not cure BPH, it reduces urinary frequency, urgency, straining, and intermittent flow. It does not correct the problem of incomplete emptying of the bladder.
Ongoing research will determine any long-term effects of this type of BPH surgery and who might benefit most from this therapy.
In October 1996, the FDA approved Vidamed's minimally-invasive Transurethral Needle Ablation (TUNA) System for the treatment of BPH.
The TUNA® System delivers low-level radiofrequency energy through twin needles to burn away a well-defined region of the enlarged prostate. Shields protect the urethra from heat damage. The TUNA System improves urine flow and relieves BPH symptoms with fewer side effects than transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). No incontinence or impotence has been observed with this form of enlarged prostate treatment.