NNUH carries out new procedure to help hundreds of men with a common urinary condition

A new procedure to help hundreds of men affected by a common urinary condition has been carried out by NNUH urology consultants.

The urethra is the tube which carries urine away from the body and in men of all ages, Urethral Stricture Disease, or scarring of the urethral tract, causes narrowing of the tube, making it difficult to urinate.

Previously men with this condition could either widen the tube themselves with a procedure called self-dilatation, which required them to insert a single-use catheter to widen the tube. Many find this difficult to do themselves and usually opt for corrective surgery. Corrective surgery involves reconstruction work to create a new urethra using a tissue graft from another part of their body.

Performing a urethral dilatation alone comes with a high risk of recurrence after the scar tissue has returned once (90%).

Now patients at NNUH who qualify can have an operation called Optilume Drug-Coated Balloon procedure during which the Optilume Drug Coated Balloon dilates the scarred uretha whilst pushing a disease-modifying drug into the affected area.

Optilume DCB has been around for about three years and NNUH Consultant Urologist Ruth Doherty has spent that time building a case to bring it to patients in Norfolk and Waveney.

Her hard work has now paid off after she and the surgical team marked the successful completion of the first operation of its kind in the hospital, with three more carried out the same day.

“It has been a long road, but it was definitely worth it,” said Ruth.

She added: “This is a very common condition in men and treating it can be difficult because it is painful and uncomfortable for them. The Optilume has a lower risk of failure between 25-27%. This means that fewer patients will need reconstructive surgery or need to perform self-dilatation. Patients are still offered all options upfront, so it greatly improving patient choice. It is great to have a minimally invasive day-case procedure available.”

Ruth explained: “Quite often the men who need treatment have other co-morbidities which would prevent them from even being considered for surgery as the risks would be thought to be too high. Now we’ll be able to see so many more people as the risks are greatly reduced for them.

“It is a much quicker procedure too, taking only about 15 minutes, so we believe this will free up capacity in theatre for those who need more complex surgery.”

Ruth added that this new development has further benefits including reduction in the number of costly consumables.

“And there is a sustainability benefit because the catheters are single-use so we are reducing our waste as well.”

The hospital has enrolled in a worldwide study which will investigate the longer-term effects of the procedure over five years. Fellow NNUH Consultant Urology Surgeon Asheesh Kaul is the study co-investigator.

He said: “We are interested to see the longer-term impacts of this procedure in terms of gathering data around reoccurrence and recovery rates compared to more established procedures.”

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