Kent Pavelka dealt with a situation common to many men.
He had benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate, which occurs in men as they age.
With that came the issues with urgency and frequency of urination and the sense of not being able to completely empty his bladder.
So almost two weeks ago, the businessman and voice of Husker basketball had what’s been called a breakthrough procedure known as, UroLift. Dr. Ansar Khan, founder of the Urology Health Center in Fremont, performed the procedure — one of about 180 he’s done in the last year.
On Wednesday, Khan was honored as the first physician in Nebraska to have his office recognized as a UroLift Center of Excellence, based on his achieving a high level of training and expertise with the system. The center is the 17th in the nation to receive this designation and a ribbon cutting took place in celebration.
Most men have prostate enlargement, something that starts at about age 40.
“It’s only when the prostate enlarges and creates an obstruction to the flow of urine, then the men develop symptoms,” Khan said.
Symptoms include: slowing of the stream of urine; getting up at night to go to the bathroom; an urgency to urinate; and frequent urination — the last three of which tend to be the most bothersome. In late cases, men can having difficulty urinating.
“And sometimes it results in incontinence, loss of control of urine,” Khan said.
Men with these symptoms should be evaluated.
“You don’t want to put it off for too long, because the bladder is working hard to push against the obstruction and the bladder muscle eventually starts getting damaged,” Khan said. “You don’t want to damage the bladder muscle, then you can’t empty your bladder.”
Khan said 80 percent of people with prostate enlargement can be treated by the UroLift and will get an excellent result. Sometimes, if the prostate is too large or is of such a shape that the procedure shouldn’t be done, they’ll need the standard surgical procedure.
The UroLift is minimally invasive technology.
“Basically, it opens up the channel. It pushes the lobes of the prostate away, like if you open the curtains of a window and you tie the curtains on the sides — that’s what the UroLift implant does,” Khan said.
The UroLift device will move one lobe of the prostate out of the way and an implant will hold it in place. The same technique is used on the other lobe.
Typically four implants are put in place, states UroLift data. The process then relieves compression on the urethra allowing for urine flow without cutting, heating or removing prostate tissue.
“The big advantage with the UroLift procedure is it has no side effects. It preserves bladder control and preserves sexual function, which is important in men,” Khan said.
The procedure is performed in an outpatient setting.
“A lot of times, we do it in the surgery center. In some cases, we do it at the hospital, whatever is best suited for that particular patient,” Khan said.
Khan noted that a local or short-acting, general anesthetic can be used.
“With the local or general anesthetic, the procedure does not hurt at all,” Khan said.
The procedure typically takes less than an hour and UroLift data indicates symptom relief and recovery results in days.
“Recovery is really fast. Most people go home the same day and within a week they’re fine,” Khan said.
Sometimes a catheter is put in place. In that case, it will either be removed the same day or next morning.
Khan appreciates the UroLift procedure.
“The results are so gratifying,” Khan said. “The patients are so happy. That itself is worth it. You see these people after a week and after a month and they’ll tell you this is the best thing they did. They couldn’t believe how easy this was and how much better their quality of life is now.
“I think this is a game-changer in the treatment of prostatic disease for all those people who are taking pills with their costs, the side effects, the compliance. Why would you put a Band-Aid on the problem instead of getting the problem resolved? I think it’s really a great procedure for a lot of men.”
Pavelka recalled how his symptoms had worsened.
Less than a week after the procedure, his urinary issues had improved quite a bit.
Pavelka describes UroLift, which Khan performs, as cutting-edge technology. Pavelka also mentioned the FirstScan clinic in Omaha, which does MRI prostate screening.
UroLift data indicates that nearly 40 million men in the United States alone have BPH and 12 million are under a doctor’s care for the condition.
Pavelka said, however, prostate issues don’t get the funding, research or publicity that others do.
“As a result, guys are pretty ignorant of the issues. I don’t think they’re in tune with their bodies regarding this and so there are a lot of guys walking around that have the same problems without any relief,” Pavelka said. “I have decided I want to bring as much attention as I can for guys to pay attention to prostate health issues.”