Cooled thermotherapy at a glance
- Cooled thermotherapy (CTT) is a treatment for men with an enlarged prostate that uses microwave energy and water to reduce excess prostate tissue while protecting the urethra, which the prostate surrounds.
- An enlarged prostate, also called benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), often causes frequent urination, excessive urge to urinate, lack or delay of urine flow and erectile dysfunction, symptoms that reduce the patient’s quality of life.
- Common treatments for BPH are cooled thermotherapy, medication and surgery, which carries certain risks.
- Cooled thermotherapy treatment is 50 percent more effective than medication in treating BPH symptoms.
What is cooled thermotherapy?
Cooled thermotherapy is an outpatient treatment for men with an enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). Thermotherapy is the use of heat or cold to soft tissue to cause it to change in a desired way.
Cooled thermotherapy (CTT) is the use of microwave energy to heat and destroy excess prostate tissue then cool the area with water circulation to protect the urethra, the prostate surrounds and other healthy tissue. The unique cooling feature decreases discomfort for the patient during the procedure. The destroyed tissue is then reabsorbed into the body over the next few weeks, minimizing the size of the prostate and the pressure it puts on the urethra.
Half of men over age 50 have BPH, which is the natural enlargement of the prostate, a walnut sized organ that produces semen and surrounds a portion of the urethra. BPH is non-cancerous and not life threatening. It cannot be cured and all forms of treatment address symptoms only.
BPH side effects, such as frequent daily urination, frequently nightly urination, lack of urine flow, delayed flow and erectile dysfunction, can negatively affect a man’s life, causing him to seek treatment. BPH can also lead to more health issues, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), bladder stones, blood in the urine, incontinence, kidney issues and urinary retention (inability to urinate, requiring emergency intervention).
Treatment options for BPH include:
- Transurethral needle ablation
- Cooled thermotherapy
Medication is usually the first course of treatment for BPH. Most medications for BPH are expensive, carry significant side effects and are only effective in about 50 percent of patients. The effectiveness of medication diminishes over time, causing the patient to seek alternative treatment.
Surgery is an invasive option for the correction of BPH and is only recommended when particularly debilitating symptoms are present. While effective, surgery involves hospitalization, a long and painful recovery and risks of reaction to anesthesia, incontinence, impotence, and excessive bleeding.
Cooled thermotherapy is the preferred treatment method for BPH because of its effectiveness, lower risks and fewer side affects.
Benefits of cooled thermotherapy
The American Urological Association endorses cooled thermotherapy, which is an FDA- approved treatment for BPH. Cooled thermotherapy benefits include:
- No anesthesia
- No surgery or recovery time
- Safe, fast and effective
- Low retreatment rates
- Covered by most healthcare insurance, including Medicare
- 50 percent more effective in symptom control than medication
- Long-lasting relief from symptoms
How is cooled thermotherapy performed?
Prior to the cooled thermotherapy procedure, a urologist will discuss the patient’s medical history and perform a physical exam to check the size and shape of the prostate and to rule out prostate cancer. The urologist may also perform an ultrasound of the prostate and take a flow test and urine culture.
During the procedure:
- The patient will be given medication to relax and a local anesthesia to numb the area.
- A catheter is inserted through the urethra and into the bladder and prostate. The catheter is flexible and contains small tubes that circulate water around an antenna that delivers the microwave energy.
- The microwave energy reduces the excess prostate tissue and the water protects the urethra, as well as keeps the patient comfortable during the procedure.
- The entire procedure takes about 30 minutes and the patient is able to leave afterward.
Someone will need to drive the patient home, as the relaxing medication may leave the patient unable to drive.
- A catheter is left in place for the next few days while swelling reduces.
- The patient should be able to resume normal activities within 24-48 hours.
Men with BPH often experience drastic improvement from symptoms two to six weeks following cooled thermotherapy treatment.
Who should have cooled thermotherapy treatment?
Men over the age of 50 who experience the following symptoms that disrupt their day-to-day lives should call Pacific Urology to discuss cooled thermotherapy treatment.
- Frequent urination throughout the day
- Frequent urination during the night, causing lack of sleep
- Unrelenting urge to urinate
- Lack of urine flow
- Delayed urine flow
- Erectile dysfunction
What are the risks of cooled thermotherapy?
Mild and temporary side effects include:
- Hematuria (blood in urine)
- Dysuria (painful or difficult urination)
- Clots in urine
- Rectal irritation
- Temporary incontinence
- Temporary erectile dysfunction
- Inability to discharge semen in orgasm