Enlarged prostate? This treatment could be your ticket to a healthy pee

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Dr. Jim Duthie is a urological surgeon who works in Wellington and Tauranga and has started performing a procedure called urolift for patients with an enlarged prostate which is much less invasive, cheaper and easier than existing treatments.

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Dr. Jim Duthie is a urological surgeon who works in Wellington and Tauranga and has started performing a procedure called urolift for patients with an enlarged prostate which is much less invasive, cheaper and easier than existing treatments.

A simple procedure being rolled out for the first time in a public hospital could bring faster relief to thousands of Kiwi men suffering from an enlarged prostate, according to a surgeon who has performed the operation for years.

An enlarged prostate – officially known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) – is a common condition in older men that can put pressure on the urethra, make it difficult to pass urine and lead to bladder infections and loss of bladder control.

About a third of all men have moderate to severe symptoms by age 60, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“The traditional procedure that we’ve been doing for about 100 years removes tissue from the prostate to make men urinate, but it takes at least one night in hospital and makes men worse in the short term,” said the Wellington urological surgeon , Dr. Jim Duthie.

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Thousands of these prostate resections have been performed each year: “I did three this morning,” Duthie said.

That meant countless patients were waiting for the procedure at any moment, jostling for theater space with men with prostate cancer.

But this month Duthie performed a treatment known as Urolift on patients in Wellington after Te Whatu Ora Capital, Coast and Hutt Valley approved funding.

The simple surgery – the longest of which took Duthie 11 minutes – inserted small implants to permanently keep the urinary passage open and allowed the men to return to work more quickly, Duthie said. It also had no impact on sexual function.

“They come out of the hospital without a catheter 90% of the time,” he said.

An enlarged prostate before and after the Urolift procedure, in which small implants are inserted into the prostate to keep the urethra open.

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An enlarged prostate before and after the Urolift procedure, in which small implants are inserted into the prostate to keep the urethra open.

The procedure is not new – Duthie was the first surgeon to perform the operation in New Zealand five years ago – but until now it has only been available privately, at a cost of about $12,000, he said.

“To have this for the first time in public is a real step forward for many departments.”

With patients able to go home the same day, fewer men would face cancellations due to lack of beds, he said.

The operation was also about $5,000 cheaper than traditional prostate resection surgery.

Palmerston North Hospital had also approved the surgery and Duthie hoped other areas would follow, in line with health reform goals to end the postcode care lottery.

He pointed out that Urolift isn’t right for everyone, but with early detection it would mean some wouldn’t need the more invasive resection.

Dr Jim Duthie performed the first Urolift surgery in the public system at Kenepuru Hospital this month.

Ross Giblin / Stuff

Dr Jim Duthie performed the first Urolift surgery in the public system at Kenepuru Hospital this month.

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