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What is prostate artery embolization (PAE)?

Prostate artery embolization (PAE) is a minimally invasive procedure performed by an Interventional Radiologist on an outpatient basis that involves targeted release of microscopic particles into the arteries that feed the prostate gland. These tiny particles then block off the blood flow to the prostate and, over the course of several weeks, the prostate decreases in size.

While some enlarged prostate treatments negatively impact male sexual function, that risk is minimal with PAE, and men can return to a normal life shortly after the procedure.

What is prostate artery embolization used for?

PAE is for men who have enlarged prostates. While not life-threatening, an enlarged prostate can negatively impact a man’s day-to-day life. Men with this condition can encounter sexual and urinary issues.

Urine flow can become very slow and frequent. Typical medical and surgical treatments for enlarged prostates can cause severe sexual dysfunction, and a condition called retrograde ejaculation.

What happens during the PAE procedure?

It works by placing a tiny catheter into the arteries that feed the prostate gland. A solution containing thousands of microscopic plastic beads is injected; these block the blood supply by shutting down blood flow to the gland. All of this is accomplished through a tiny quarter-inch hole in the groin.

General anesthesia is not needed because the procedure is not all that painful. Most patients go home the same day with just a small bandage, requiring only a few days of recovery at home before returning to normal life.

Following the embolization, the prostate gland is starved of its blood supply, and therefore shrinks down in size. This allows the urethra to open up and urine to flow more normally. Thankfully, shrinking the prostate does not have any negative impact on sexual function, and indeed a small number of patients actually experience an improvement in their sexual function after the procedure.

How long does the procedure take?

The outpatient procedure takes about two hours, so patients go home the same day. Recovery typically takes just a few days at home before patients can return to work and other routine activities.

Who is a candidate for PAE?

All men who’ve been diagnosed with BPH, who experience symptoms that are not controlled well by medications and who are not able to or do not want to undergo invasive surgical treatments, are candidates for PAE.

What are the risks involved with PAE?

PAE has been shown to have fewer side effects than other widely used treatments for BPH such as transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) surgery, which is associated with incontinence, impotence, retrograde ejaculation and erectile dysfunction issues in men. When the procedure is performed by an experienced physician, the complication rate is extremely low and the procedure is incredibly safe and effective.

According to the World Journal of Urology, the following side effects can occur following PAE: transient blood in urine (hematuria), rectal bleeding, and acute urinary retention.

If you feel you may be a candidate for this procedure, please fill out the attached form and email it to

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