What is transurethral needle ablation?
Transurethral needle ablation, which is also known as TUNA or radiofrequency ablation, is a minimally invasive treatment mode used in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia.
During a transurethral needle ablation procedure, a radiofrequency needle is inserted through the tip of the penis to the urethra and into the area of the prostate that is pressing on the urethra. Through the needles, radio waves are sent into the prostate to destroy prostate tissue. As a result of this, the prostate shrinks. This enables urine to flow out of the urethra.
Who may require transurethral needle ablation?
Transurethral needle ablation is requested to treat or prevent a number of conditions. Such as;
Benign prostatic hyperplasia: Which is characterized by
- Frequent and urgent need to urinate.
- Difficulty urinating.
- More frequent night-time need to urinate.
- Urinary tract infections.
- Slow, or prolonged, urination
- The feeling of being unable to completely empty the bladder.
Urine complications due to blockage: For instance
- Recurring urinary tract infections.
- Kidney and bladder damage.
- Inability to control urination or to even urinate at all.
- Bladder stones.
- Presence of blood in your urine.
Preparation for transurethral needle ablation
- You may need to be placed on antibiotics several days before the surgery to prevent urinary tract infection.
- To reduce the risk of bleeding during the transurethral needle ablation procedure, certain medications advised to be avoided; such as, warfarin, aspirin and ibuprofen.
- Arrange for transport back home, as you will be unable to drive after a transurethral needle ablation procedure, due to catheter in your bladder
- Also, know that work or any strenuous activity will have to be avoided for two to three days after surgery.
Transurethral needle ablation procedure
- A transurethral needle ablation procedure begins with the administration of a local, spinal or intravenous anaesthesia to numb the prostate area.
- The anaesthesia will be inserted through the tip of the penis, via the rectum or in the area between the scrotum and anus.
- An endoscope fitted with two needles and a camera is inserted through the penis through to the prostate.
- The camera enables the visual of a high-quality image of the prostate on a video monitor.
- The needles are used to perforate the prostate and heat up and destroy the prostate tissue with radio waves.
- Slight pain or discomfort might be felt when the radio waves pass through the needles.
- This is done about 6 to 8 times to treat the whole adenoma.
- Until the urethra heals and urination can occur on its own, a catheter will be required.
Aftermath of a transurethral needle ablation procedure
After a transurethral needle ablation procedure, a urinary catheter will have to be in place because of swelling that blocks urine flow and to aid urination.
Antibiotics will be prescribed to prevent a urinary tract infection.
Also, the following might be noticed;
- Presence of blood in the urine.
- Irritating urinary symptoms.
- Difficulty with holding urine.
- Urinary tract infection.
- Burning sensation after urinating.
Results from transurethral needle ablation
It may take several weeks to months to see significant improvement in the urinary symptoms. This is because the body needs enough time to break down and absorb prostate tissue that has been destroyed.
What are the benefits of choosing transurethral needle ablation for prostate treatment?
Transurethral needle ablation procedure offers some advantages over other treatment procedures to treat prostate cancer.
- There’s very low risk of bleeding.
- It doesn’t require a hospital stay. And should there be a need for a hospital stay, it’s very short.
- Patients need less anaesthesia.
Are there any risk associated with transurethral needle ablation?
Even though a transurethral needle ablation procedure is a relatively safe procedure, complications may occur. Possible complications include:
- Chronic inflammation of the prostate, which can lead to painful urination or frequent need to urinate.
- Difficulty with urinating for a few days after the procedure.
- Urinary tract infection.
- Erectile dysfunction, although rare.
- A retreatment may be required.
- New onset or worsening of urinary symptoms.