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Personal Health 2021

The outpatient surgery that stops men getting up in the night

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James Reynolds

BPH Patient

As men age, prostate issues can affect not just how often they need to go to the toilet, but also impact the flow itself. While common, the negative impact should not be ignored.

For Daniel, 75 from County Dublin, an increased need to go to the toilet was what he first noticed over a decade ago. But as getting up twice a night became six times a night, he realised something needed to be done.

After a number of tests, he was offered a TURP operation (resection of the prostate), which although caused a lot of discomfort at the time, ultimately worked for the next 10 years. But slowly, Daniel realised he was getting up in the night again, so with a nudge from his wife, he went back to his surgeon.

New steam vapour treatments

This time, Mr. Richard Power recommended a new type of treatment, Rezūm, that uses water vapour to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BHP) – an enlarged prostate. Not only was the treatment known for quick results – a day surgery with minimal recovery time, but the risks of erectile dysfunction and heavy bleeding were much lower, as the treatment uses thermal energy instead of a resection.

Used to trips to the hospital, Daniel wasn’t nervous about the procedure in late 2020, but he was apprehensive about the recovery. He remembered the discomfort he felt previously while still working as a finance officer for a local authority. Only this time, Daniel’s recovery was much quicker.

He says, “The procedure was under anaesthesia and I was warned that I may feel some pain once I woke up but I felt absolutely fine. After some tea and toast and a few hours on the ward I was able to go home. I had to have a catheter for 24-hours and honestly that was the worst part but only because it’s such an unusual feeling.”

But as getting up twice a night became six times a night, he realised something needed to be done.

Faster recovery times

For 64-year-old James Reynolds from Drogheda in County Louth, he had also suffered a decade of discomfort.  Previously he had managed with tablets after making an appointment with his GP after seeing blood in his urine. He was carefully monitored and saw a consultant every 6-12 months.

But in January 2020, his consultant Mr Power suggested that he might be a candidate for Rezūm. James went home to tell his wife of almost 40 years that he would have his prostate “steam-cleaned”, and after several medical checks including an endoscopy, he was given the go-ahead for the procedure.

Like Daniel, James was given an appointment as an outpatient, and was discharged later the same day, returning four days later to have his catheter removed. He says, “I was given some pads after the procedure and warned that it might get worse before it gets better but immediately my problems with a slow flow and increased frequency to urinate went away. It was the catheter that felt a bit strange but even knowing what I know, I’d go back and have it done again.”

Removing the stigma around men’s health

Both men have seen great results after just a few weeks and were discharged following a six-week check-up. But while James has compared notes with other men who have had similar procedures, Daniel feels that the stigma attached to men’s health makes it hard to talk. “Even when I wanted to talk about my condition, it was just easy to change the conversation to the football or something similar.”

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