Prostate Artery Embolization

Prostate Artery Embolization (PAE): A Patient Guide

Introduction to Enlarged Prostate

The prostate is a small gland found in men, located below the bladder. Its main role is to produce fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. An enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), is a common condition that men may experience as they age. Symptoms can include difficulty urinating, a frequent need to urinate, and inability to completely empty the bladder.

prostate artery embolization

What is Prostate Artery Embolization (PAE)?

Prostate Artery Embolization (PAE) is a minimally invasive treatment option for men suffering from symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Unlike traditional surgery, PAE does not require incisions. Instead, it involves the use of radiological techniques to block blood flow to specific areas of the prostate, thereby reducing its size and relieving symptoms. This procedure is mostly done by Interventional Radiologist.

How PAE Works

  1. Preparation: Before the procedure, you’ll undergo a thorough evaluation, including imaging tests like MRI or CT scans, to map the blood vessels of your prostate.
  2. Procedure: Performed under local anesthesia, a radiologist inserts a catheter through a small incision in the groin or wrist. Using advanced imaging techniques, the catheter is navigated to the prostate arteries.
  3. Embolization: Tiny particles are then injected through the catheter into these arteries, blocking blood flow to the enlarged prostate tissue.
  4. Recovery: Post-procedure, patients often return home the same day and can resume normal activities shortly after, with significant symptom improvement within weeks. There are potential risks of pelvic cramping, pelvic pain, urinary urgency, urinary frequency and rectal discomfort the first couple of weeks after the procedure. But with time, these side effects subside. With time, the prostate starts to shrink, thus improving the urinary symptoms.

Limitations of PAE

Prostate artery embolization typically helps patients with larger prostates. Larger prostates have larger blood vessels that are easier to identify and embolize. Therefore, the bigger the prostate, the better the PAE procedure seems to work. Thus most patients with smaller or moderate-sized prostates are not good candidates for the PAE.

Benefits of PAE

  • Minimally Invasive: With no incisions, PAE offers a lower risk of complications and a quicker recovery compared to traditional surgery.
  • Effective Symptom Relief: Many patients experience significant improvement in urinary symptoms and quality of life.
  • Preservation of Sexual Function: Unlike some surgical options, PAE has a lower risk of sexual dysfunction post-procedure.

Efficacy and Research

Research studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of PAE in treating symptoms of an enlarged prostate. For instance:

  • A 2020 study published in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology found that PAE significantly improved urinary symptoms and quality of life in men with moderate to severe BPH, with sustained results over time.
  • Another study in the European Radiology journal reported that PAE was effective in reducing prostate size and improving patient symptoms, with minimal side effects.

These studies, among others, suggest that PAE is a safe and effective treatment option for BPH.

Potential Risks and Side Effects

While PAE is generally safe, as with any medical procedure, there are potential risks and side effects, including:

  • Minor bruising or bleeding at the catheter insertion site
  • Temporary urinary symptoms, such as burning or urgency
  • Urinary retention requiring a temporary catheter.
  • Rectal pressure, urgency and discomfort, usually the first 1-2 weeks after procedure
  • Rarely, more serious complications such as infection or non-target embolization (meaning embolizing an organ nearby that was not intended to be embolized)


Prostate Artery Embolization represents a promising treatment option for those suffering from symptoms of an enlarged prostate, offering a combination of efficacy, safety, and minimal recovery time. If you’re considering PAE, discuss with your healthcare provider to determine if it’s the right option for you.


  1. “Prostate Artery Embolization for the Treatment of Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms in Men with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia,” Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, 2020.
  2. “Clinical and Imaging Evaluation of the Results of Prostate Artery Embolization for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia,” European Radiology, 2019.


This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.