A laser thinner than a match could be an effective new way to treat an enlarged prostate without affecting erectile function.
The EchoLaser can be guided into place by ultrasound and will burn away excess prostate tissue without damaging nearby healthy cells. The procedure can be performed under local anesthesia in less than 30 minutes.
It offers a new approach to treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which affects about 50 percent of men age 50 and older.
The prostate, which is usually the size of a walnut, is located below the bladder and wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body.
The prostate enlarges with age, and in BPH it becomes so large that it puts pressure on the bladder and urethra. This can lead to frequent urination and difficulty initiating urination or problems emptying the bladder completely. These symptoms can be distressing and interfere with quality of life.
The EchoLaser can be guided into place by ultrasound and will burn away excess prostate tissue without damaging nearby healthy cells. The procedure can be performed under local anesthesia in less than 30 minutes. A file photo is used above
Treatments range from lifestyle changes, such as drinking less alcohol and caffeine (both of which can worsen symptoms) to medications, including alpha-blockers, which relax muscles in the prostate gland and bladder neck, allowing urine to flow more freely.
Those whose symptoms do not respond to medication may be offered surgery to remove the excess prostate tissue.
Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) is considered the gold standard surgical treatment for this, but can have unwanted effects, including erectile dysfunction and incontinence.
It can also lead to retrograde ejaculation, where the sperm backs up into the bladder, leading to male infertility. This complication of surgery affects as many as 65 to 75 percent of men, according to the NHS, and occurs as a result of damage to the nerves and muscles between the bladder and prostate.
EchoLaser, it is hoped, could offer a less risky option. It consists of an optical fiber, the width of two human hairs, which carries the laser light in a fine needle about a third of a millimeter in diameter.
The needle is inserted through the perineum (the space between the anus and the scrotum) and brought into position.
Treatments range from lifestyle changes, such as drinking less alcohol and caffeine (both of which can worsen symptoms) to medications, including alpha-blockers, which relax muscles in the prostate gland and bladder neck, allowing urine to flow more freely. A file photo is used above
When activated, a rotating heat ball is created at the tip of the needle, which heats and destroys the unwanted tissue.
New research based on 38 men shows that it is effective and safe.
All patients were discharged within eight hours and after one month, urine flow had improved by an average of a third and the amount of urine in the bladder had halved.
The University of Florence urologists who conducted the trial reported in the journal Frontiers in Urology that there were no cases of retrograde ejaculation and that all the men no longer needed the prostate enlargement medication they had been taking.
Commenting on the study, Professor Raj Persad, a urologist at Bristol Urology said: ‘Over the years, due to the potential side effects of traditional surgery for BPH [i.e. TURP]including hemorrhages, urethral and bladder neck scarring, several minimally invasive procedures have been devised.
‘If the efficacy of this’ [EchoLaser] approach is as good as the others, it will be a strong contender for offering BPH treatment with the least discomfort and possible side effects for the patient.
“It could prove to be a cost-effective treatment for an already financially challenged NHS.”
According to a study by physicians at Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Paris, published in Drugs & Aging, an extract of a dwarf pine berry may be as effective as medication for an enlarged prostate.
Researchers found that saw palmetto berry extract was as effective as an alpha blocker in improving urine flow and shrinking the prostate.
It is believed that the berry extract has an anti-inflammatory effect, reducing the size of the gland.
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Blood tests relieve dry eyes
Dry eyes can be treated with the patient’s own blood.
Research shows that injecting a few drops of platelet-rich blood into the tear glands of people with severe dry eye disease resulted in a 50 percent improvement in tear production after three months.
Dry eye affects up to 50 percent of adults and usually occurs when the lacrimal glands don’t produce enough tears.
In the study, reported in BMC Ophthalmology, researchers took blood from 28 patients and processed it to increase the concentration of platelets, which are rich in growth factors. The solution was injected into one eye, with the other eye serving as a control.
Dry eye affects up to 50 percent of adults and usually occurs when the lacrimal glands don’t produce enough tears
Fish can protect the brain from toxins
Eating fish strengthens the blood-brain barrier — a ‘wall’ of specialized cells that prevents harmful toxins linked to conditions such as dementia from entering the brain, say researchers from Nottingham Trent University and Queen Mary University of London.
Fish and seafood contain a molecule called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), which reduces the leakage of the brain barrier.
Tests by the scientists on mice showed that those with the highest levels of TMAO in their blood were less likely to have trouble remembering or recognizing things, the journal Microbiome reports.