How does the etiology of acute and chronic prostatitis differ?

Updated: Aug 27, 2019
  • Author: John L Brusch, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

Prostatic fluid contains various antibacterial substances, including zinc and antibodies, which are lacking in some patients with chronic bacterial prostatitis. Interestingly, acute prostatitis usually does not result in chronic prostatitis, and chronic bacterial prostatitis is usually not antedated by acute prostatitis. Of men referred for prostatitis, less than 10% have either acute or chronic bacterial prostatitis.

Acute and chronic prostatitis

In the 1800s, prostatitis was thought to be secondary to excessive alcohol consumption or physical or sexual activity. It was often associated with gonorrhea and could be fatal or lead to abscess formation. By the 1920s, most cases were attributed to microorganisms, and antibiotics combined with prostate massage were standard therapy after World War II. Although the role of bacteria was questioned in the 1950s, it was reemphasized in 1968 when Meares and Stamey described their "4-glass test." [5]

Acute prostatitis is caused by an acute infection of the entire prostate gland, resulting in fever and localized pain. Microscopically, neutrophilic infiltrates, diffuse edema, and microabscesses may be seen, which may coalesce into larger collections.

Chronic prostatitis may be caused by inflammatory or noninflammatory diseases. This condition may arise via dysfunctional voiding, intraprostatic reflux, chronic exposure to microorganisms, autoimmune mechanisms, irritative urinary metabolites, and as a variant of neuropathic pain. Chronic bacterial prostatitis often produces few or no symptoms related to the prostate, but it is probably the most common cause of relapsing UTI in men.


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