The diagnosis came years earlier. Jon Evert, a retired construction estimator from Ashippun, was 70 when he was told he had benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH), a non-cancerous condition more commonly known as “enlarged prostate”. But at the time, he didn’t have many of the typical symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate like:
• a sudden need to urinate
• having to push or strain to being urination
• a weak urinary stream
• frequent trips to the bathroom that disrupt sleep
But four years later, at the age of 74 when his enlarged prostate began to impact the quality of his life, Jon decided it was time to talk with his doctor, Franklin Smith, M.D. a urologist at Aurora Wilkinson Medical Clinic, about possible treatment options. “At the time my enlarged prostate was diagnosed, it didn’t bother me too much so I decided to hold off on surgery,” explains Jon. “But about a year ago, the condition became increasingly symptomatic. I had to get up a lot at night, and during the day I’d constantly be feeling a sudden urge to urinate. If we’d go anywhere, I was always thinking, ‘Where’s the closest toilet?’ It certainly began to affect my lifestyle, but at my age, I just thought, ‘Well, that’s the way it is.’”
Despite the onset of more annoying symptoms, Jon’s decision to delay surgery turned out to be a blessing, because since his original diagnosis, Dr. Smith has become highly experienced in performing GreenLightTM laser, an alternative to the previous gold standard treatment – transurethral resection of the prostate or “TURP.”
With the GreenLightTM laser treatment a thin fiber is inserted in the urethra through a cystoscope, an instrument that allows the doctor to examine the bladder and prostate. The fiber delivers a precise, high-powered laser energy to instantly “vaporize” and remove enlarged prostate tissue, restoring a wide-open channel for the normal flow of urine.
“An enlarge prostate is an excellent application of this new laser technology,” says Dr. Smith. “The destroyed tissue simply vaporizes; it is not left in the body to be expelled over time, which was the case with older laser technologies. The results of the procedure are immediate, and recovery is usually quick and comfortable. There is not cutting or incision. Most patients do not need catheterization, and they can go home within a few hours of the procedure.”
Several years ago when Jon was first diagnosed, his option was TURP. “People sometimes call TURP the rotor rooter procedure, because it involves the insertion of a 12-inch scope that is about a half inch in diameter into the urethra through the penis. The scope has an electrical loop that removes excess tissue in the prostate one layer at a time,” describes Dr. Smith. With traditional surgery, post-operative recovery is typically four to six weeks. With the laser, patients resume normal activities within a few days.
While TURP has been an effective surgery for enlarged prostate for many years, it is rapidly being replaced by less invasive procedures such as the GreenlightTM laser. GreenLightTM technology involves no cutting or incision and offers:
• Fast Recovery – Most men resume a normal, non-strenuous activities for the next few days.
• Very Low Risk of Sexual Dysfunction – Reports show less than 1% of patients experienced sexual dysfunction.
• No Drug Interactions – GreenLightTM is not a drug, making it unlikely to interfere with other medications.
• Well Tolerated – With most patients experiencing only minor discomfort for the first week.
“TURP requires inpatient hospitalization along with the discomfort of temporary catheterization and possible complications with bleeding,” adds Dr. Smith. “Consequently, patients who are taking blood thinner medications are not good candidates for TURP, nor are patients with extremely enlarged prostates, which require open surgery.” On the contrary, nearly everyone with moderate to severe BPH is a candidate for GreenLightTM laser.
“There was nothing to it,” reports Jon. “I was in and out of the hospital in a half-day and I started feeling normal right away – no pain, and very little discomfort. I wish I would have had it done a year earlier because my life is better now as a result of that procedure. I love downhill skiing but I was kind of hesitating about going anymore,” he offers as an example of how. “You get all that gear on then you realize you have to get to a bathroom… right away. You think twice about going skiing again when that happens a few times.”
After having the GreenLightTM laser procedure, Jon says he resumed doing everything he previously enjoyed, including skiing. He and his wife can now enjoy a half-day of skiing without even thinking about a bathroom break. “I didn’t realize how limiting the condition was getting to be,” concludes Jon. “I used to get up two to four times a night to go. Now I get up once, if that. I feel a lot more rested now. Life is good,” he says with a smile. “I feel like a young man again.”
If you have symptoms of a prostate problem, new treatment options are available. For an appointment with Dr. Smith at the Aurora Wilkinson Medical Clinic in Oconomowoc, call 262-569-2300; in Hartland, call 262-369-7040.
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