“I was 56 years old and returning from a China vacation in 2011 (and) was using a urinal at a gas station, in walked a 20-something year old. He didn’t use a urinal but instead went into a toilet stall and proceeded to (pee) with the velocity of a high-pressure hose into the toilet. That is when I first realized my urinary flow was slowing down.” – Curtis M.
Today, we want to introduce you to Curtis – a valued patient of ECCO Medical who drove over 500 miles to have the Prostate Artery Embolization (PAE) procedure done by Dr. Nutting in May of this year.
But as with every good tale, we have to go back to the beginning to really understand the magnificence of this story.
Curtis had been dealing with symptoms of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) for twelve long years before discovering ECCO Medical. In the healthcare field, these symptoms are referred to as LUTS (Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms), and may include:
- Leaking urine
- Sudden and frequent urges to pee
- Having a weak stream
- Feeling like you can’t empty your bladder
Of course, these symptoms are not fun – but for most guys, they’re nowhere near as unpleasant as the potential side effects that come with traditional treatments for this condition – especially when it comes to sexual performance (retrograde ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, etc.)
“One of my main goals in life was to research methods to help shrink my prostate but to also keep it doing its job in assisting with orgasms,” recalls Curtis.
Curtis, sixty-eight years old at the time of his PAE procedure, had observed a gradual weakening of his urine stream over the past twelve years. As an avid researcher, he dedicated much of that time to exploring new and innovative ways to enhance his urine flow.
“My flow had gone down to 4 ml (per) second measured with a measuring cup (normal male rate is 10 to 21ml a second), and I knew I had to do something to fix it,” said Curtis.
Curtis approached this challenge head-on, first investigating the benefits of medication to treat BPH. There are several drugs on the market that claim to maintain a persistent, healthy urine flow for men – the one Curtis’ doctor recommended is called FLOMAX (a type of alpha-blocker).
However, many male patients hesitate to take this drug because of the potential for negative side effects – namely, changes in sexual desire and performance.
Deciding against this course of treatment, Curtis then turned his attention to traditional procedures for BPH that are offered by urologists. Procedures such as:
During TURP, a thin scope is inserted through the urethra to remove excess prostate tissue, relieving urinary obstruction and improving urine flow.
The UroLift procedure involves placing tiny implants in the prostate to lift and hold the enlarged tissue, relieving pressure on the urethra and improving urine flow for patients with BPH.
Holmium Laser Enucleation of the Prostate (HoLEP) is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which a holmium laser is used to carefully remove excess prostate tissue, relieving urinary symptoms and improving urine flow.
Green Light Laser
Green Light Laser therapy involves using a specialized laser to vaporize or remove obstructive prostate tissue. The laser emits green light, which is absorbed by the enlarged prostate tissue, causing it to shrink and alleviate urinary symptoms.
Butterfly Prostatic Retraction
The Butterfly Prostatic Retraction device is a quick, office-based implant for treating BPH, placed in the prostatic urethra to push prostate lobes aside, aiming to alleviate lower urinary tract symptoms non-surgically in older adults.
Aquablation is a procedure where a robotically controlled water jet is utilized to precisely remove excess prostate tissue, improving urine flow and reducing symptoms.
But whether due to the potential for negative side effects, long recovery times, or expense, Curtis decided that none of those procedures listed above were for him. Instead, he turned his attention to a minimally invasive procedure called Prostate Artery Embolization.
“(Prostate Artery Embolization) is a minimally invasive procedure as an alternative to a TERP or a through-the-penis procedure, where they scrape out the inside of the prostate,” says Dr. Charles Nutting, Renowned PAE Specialist. “This is all done as an outpatient procedure; nothing’s inserted into the rectum or penis, the recovery is relatively quick, (and) there’s no risk of incontinence or sexual dysfunction from this procedure..”
If you’ve ever researched the PAE procedure online, you’ve likely already heard of ECCO Medical. Our doctors have performed over 600 PAE procedures to date and are renowned as true experts on this condition – a persuading factor for Curtis, who was only willing to entrust his healthcare to the best of the best:
“I used Dr. Charles Nutting (at ECCO Medical) in Lone Tree… I was told he was one of the top two doctors in the United States doing the PAE and has done over 600 PAE procedures,” recalls Curtis.
After twelve long years of research, debate, and anguish, Curtis was finally ready to take this next step in his healthcare journey.
When Curtis first arrived at ECCO Medical on the day of his procedure, he was escorted into a private room and given a gown to change into and a blanket to keep him warm. Then, our Nursing Team came in to prep him for the procedure.
PAE is typically performed through the patient’s femoral artery in the groin. To prepare this site for surgery, it must be thoroughly shaved and cleaned. Afterward, the doctor joined Curtis in his suite to once again review the procedure’s details and answer any final questions.
“Doctor came in and said there will be slight sedation to help keep the pelvis from moving during the procedure,” Curtis recalls. “He also said…at times, I would be feeling a warming sensation when they injected dyes to locate the correct arteries. The machine will map out the arteries to assist the doctor in his placement of the beads.”
Here, Curtis is referring to the GE Allia machine – a state-of-the-art embolization assistant that provides real-time imaging of the patient’s vascular network. ECCO Medical is currently the only outpatient clinic in the United States to house this innovative technology.
“I would say the procedure took a little over an hour. I had no discomfort but did feel the warming when the dyes went in. No time was I uncomfortable,” said Curtis.
Once the procedure was complete, Curtis was escorted into our Patient Recovery Area while the light sedation wore off. In total, he would spend just over two and a half hours at our clinic for this life-changing procedure.
Once he was fully rested and back to normal, the doctor came in to go over any final questions or concerns.
“.. and I said I had no discomfort from the procedure,” said Curtis.
Once Curtis was clear on the discharge instructions and had picked up his recommended medications, it was time to prepare for the 500-mile journey back home. At first, Curtis had some obvious reservations.
Although this procedure was minimally invasive, was his body really up to such a long stretch of travel?
“I had a 500 mile drive back home,” Curtis reminisced. “No discomfort except to urinate every 80 miles. And thankfully, they had given me a portable urinal to catch the urine while sitting. That became my new friend (literally) on the way home.”
Curtis reported that, in the days following this procedure, he did experience slight discomfort when first starting to urinate, which is to be expected. But once the urine stream started, the discomfort would subside: “It seems like the discomfort is just when you start peeing,” Curtis recalled.
But this slight discomfort was a welcome side effect for Curtis, who had already started noticing improvements in his urine output just three days after his procedure:
“Three and one half days after the procedure, urinary output was twice what it was before. Eight milliliters a second versus four milliliters,” said Curtis.
Curtis’ friends and family were ecstatic to hear about his success with the PAE procedure, but one question lingered: Why didn’t he use a local IR doctor instead of traveling 500 miles to Colorado?
“The local doctor wanted me to be on FLOMAX prior to the operation and wanted to do the PAE with a urinary catheter in place,” Curtis recalls. “(The doctors at ECCO) told me they used a urinary catheter in the (early cases), but updated resonating equipment did away with that need. And (ECCO Medical doctors) have done 50 times more PAE procedures (than most other doctors).”
We are so excited to hear about the improvements Curtis’ has experienced due to PAE and are grateful to have received such outstanding feedback!
Curtis hopes his story will encourage other men to seek the help they need, too. He recalls that the inspiration to send in this testimonial was:
“..to spread the news that men need to take care of their prostate problems and be more proactive or other problems can and will develop,” said Curtis. “I said I would be doing my part to get the word out.”