How are lasers used in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)?

Updated: Feb 19, 2021
  • Author: Levi A Deters, MD; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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Lasers deliver heat to the prostate in various ways. Lasers heat prostate tissue, causing tissue death by coagulative necrosis, with subsequent tissue contraction; however, laser coagulation of the prostate in this specific sense has met with limited results.

Lasers have also been used to directly evaporate, or to melt away, prostate tissue, which is more effective than laser coagulation. Photoselective vaporization of the prostate produces a beam that does not directly come into contact with the prostate; rather, it delivers heat energy into the prostate, resulting in destruction/ablation of the prostate tissue.

Potassium-titanyl-phosphate (KTP) and holmium lasers are used to cut and/or enucleate the prostate, similar to the TURP technique. These are widely used laser techniques.

Transurethral vaporization/ablation with the KTP or holmium laser can be performed with general or spinal anesthesia and can be performed in an outpatient setting. Catheter time usually lasts less than 24 hours. Studies suggest that photoselective vaporization of the prostate can significantly improve and sustain symptomatic and urodynamic outcomes.

This procedure has been quite useful in patients who require anticoagulation for various medical conditions, since anticoagulation does not need to be interrupted for this procedure, thus further decreasing patient risk. [38, 39]

Lasers may be used in a knifelike fashion to directly cut away prostate tissue (ie, holmium laser enucleation of the prostate), similar to a TURP procedure. The holmium laser allows for simultaneous cutting and coagulation, making it quite useful for prostate resection. Laser enucleation of the prostate has proved to be safe and effective for treatment of symptomatic BPH, regardless of prostate size, with low morbidity and short hospital stay.

TUR syndrome is not seen with this technique, because iso-osmotic saline is used for irrigation. Additionally, removed prostatic tissue is available for histologic evaluation, whereas vaporization/ablation technique does not provide tissue for evaluation. Holmium laser enucleation of the prostate may prove to be the new criterion standard for surgical management of BPH. [39, 40]

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