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TUNA Therapy Combats Benign Prostatic Hyperlasia
(ARA) - With age, most men's prostates grow larger, resulting in irritating problems associated with urination. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a common condition affecting the prostate. It is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate that restricts the flow of urine from the bladder. Millions of men worldwide are affected by BPH, but fewer than five percent are receiving treatment. Fifty percent of men older than 50 and 80 percent of men older than 80 have some symptoms of BPH. This condition is the most common non-cancerous form of cell growth in men. While there is no definitive cause of BPH, factors that contribute to the condition include aging, hormones and growth factors.

Though BPH is not life threatening, it can lead to a reduced quality of life, causing discomfort, inconvenience, sleep disruption and embarrassment. BPH was traditionally treated by a method called Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP). This involves inserting a scope into the urethra and removing a section of the obstructing prostate tissue. It involves surgical risks but remains a "standard."

Medication is also available to help treat BPH. Some relax the neck of the bladder while others shrink the prostate. These medications are effective, but not as effective as surgery. Within the past decade, a number of minimally invasive techniques have been developed to treat BPH. Transurethral Needle Ablation (TUNA) is one such technique that has fewer side effects than other minimally invasive laser or microwave treatments. The side effect profile also compares favorably to TURP.

With Medtronic TUNA Therapy, a catheter is inserted into the urethra and two small needles are deployed into the obstructing prostate tissue. The needles emit radio frequency (RF) energy directly and precisely into the prostate, causing thermal ablation of the obstructing tissue while protecting the urethra and adjacent structures from damage. This procedure is associated with few side effects and adverse events. Possible side effects from the TUNA procedure include obstruction, bleeding, pain/discomfort, urgency, frequency and urinary tract infection.

"TUNA offers men a much more attractive option to surgery when first-line medications fail," said Dr. Michael J. Naslund, associate professor of urology and director of the Maryland Prostate Center at the University of Maryland.

TUNA Therapy provides long-term relief of BPH symptoms in a single treatment. It is performed as an outpatient procedure in a urologist's office. It typically takes less than an hour to perform and most patients require local anesthesia. Most patients return to normal activities within 48 hours. TUNA Therapy is affordable and cost effective. It is covered by most private health plans and Medicare approved the procedure for in-office reimbursement on Jan. 1, 2000.

The procedure received marketing clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1996 for the treatment of symptoms due to urinary outflow obstruction secondary to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in men older than 50 with prostate sizes between 20 and 50 cc. Since its introduction, more than 33,000 TUNA procedures have been performed worldwide.

"Even with medications, I was still living my life around where the nearest bathroom was located -- it was embarrassing and distressing," said David Schachnovsky, who underwent a TUNA procedure performed by Dr. Naslund. "I felt surgery was the only way I would get relief, so my doctor explained the available options. Now I'm back taking long walks on the beach with my wife. My life is normal again, which is a fantastic feeling."

The best protection against prostate problems is to have regular medical check-ups that include prostate exams. Symptoms of BPH include a frequent urge to urinate, difficulty urinating and the dribbling of urine.

Medtronic, Inc. (, headquartered in Minneapolis, is the world's leading medical technology company, providing lifelong solutions for people with chronic disease. More information about Medtronic Urology is available online at

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