Bay Area company's device offers bladder relief

PLEASANTON, Calif. (KGO) -- A Bay Area company believes it has a solution for an uncomfortable problem that affects an estimated 37 million men in the U.S. alone.

If you're of a certain age, chances are you probably visit the restroom a lot more often. But for some men suffering from enlarged prostate glands, the situation can get completely out of hand.

"I was getting up four to five times a night," said prostate patient Ken Bunger. "And unfortunately when I get up and my feet hit the floor, I wake up."

Bunger is a former professional baseball player, who's stayed in shape over the years. But at 77, he'd developed a condition called BPH, in which an enlarged prostate affects a patient's ability to fully empty their bladder, forcing them to go the bathroom more often.

"It's the second most common surgically treated condition in medicine, says Edward Karpman, M.D., a urologist with El Camino Hospital in Mountain View.

Bunger turned to Karpman, who recommended a new option called UroLift that was recently approved by the FDA and does not require surgery. He says it's a minimally invasive procedure performed with a catheter like device.

"It's done with a regular cisiscope," he said. "A cisiscope is a device we use to look in man's prostate or bladder. We use it every day in the office."

He says the UroLift device is run through the scope. Doctors then place several tiny hook-like implants at the site of the blockage, pulling the prostate tissue away from the urinary tract. Since there is no cutting, Karpman says the procedure avoids the risk of sexual side effects associated with traditional surgery.

"So when guys are considering surgery, they often times will avoid it because of this concern," he said.

The UroLift is manufactured by a Pleasanton-based company called Neotract. In clinical trials, it proved three times as effective as the most common medications.

For Bunger, the relief was most noticeable at night.

"Within about ten days to two weeks, I was just having to get up one time a night," he said.

The procedure is now covered by Medicare, as well as many insurance plans.

Written and produced by Tim Didion.
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