A ground-breaking operation that 'cooks' enlarged prostates – and is said to avoid sexual-dysfunction side effects – has been performed for the first time in Australia.
Retired businessman Kerry Hayes returned from Spain in order to undergo the procedure at Sydney Adventist Hospital in Wahroonga.
It was performed by urologist Henry Woo, who himself had travelled overseas to learn the new Rezum technique.
The method delivers steam vapour to the prostate via a telescopic instrument, using thermal energy to eradicate the enlarged tissue.
“The water vapour literally cooks the prostate, which then shrinks – as it does, the urethra is opened and men can pass urine more freely,” Professor Woo said.
He said it has minimal side effects in comparison to conventional treatments such as medication and surgery, the latter of which can result in sexual dysfunction in 70-80 percent of cases.
“To have a minimally-invasive surgical treatment that preserves all aspects of sexual function is a game-changing type of treatment,” Prof Woo said.
Mr Hayes, 64, said he had suffered from prostate issues for 15 years but was worried by the potential side effects of drug treatment or surgery – such as loss of emission on ejaculation, and loss of sexual function.
“My biggest problem was with frequency and inability to urinate. It was frustrating and painful.
“I am a fit and healthy 64-year-old who enjoys hiking and working out in the gym, and it was affecting my lifestyle. Over 12 months ago I decided I needed to do something,” he said.
Based in Barcelona, he was about to undergo the TURP surgical procedure when he was told by Prof Woo's office about Rezum, and that it had been cleared for use in Australia.
“I jumped at the chance and was on a flight to Sydney a few days later. I'm glad I did,” Mr Hayes said.
The procedure, commercially available in Europe and the United States for nearly two years, has already proved popular in Wahroonga – three were performed at the hospital's San Urology clinic that first morning.
Andrew D, a 52-year-old married father of three, has booked his operation for April.
“The fact that I should get relief within a few weeks, without side effects, and that I’ll be back driving and at work the next day, is terrific,” he said.
Over 50 percent of men aged 50-plus have enlarged prostates, causing urinary problems including sleep disturbance, frequent need to go to the bathroom, and flow.
Prof Woo said Rezum – a day procedure – allows a rapid recovery within 48 hours and helps restore prostate sufferers' quality of life.
“Symptom relief may not be immediate, but over weeks there is a gradual improvement, and by three months significant symptom relief will be experienced,” he said.