A prospective randomized comparison of transurethral resection to visual laser ablation of the prostate for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia

R S Cowles, J N Kabalin, S Childs, H Lepor, C Dixon, B Stein, A Zabbo
Urology 1995, 46 (2): 155-60

OBJECTIVES: Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) represents the accepted standard of surgical therapy for the management of symptomatic bladder outlet obstruction due to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). However, this is a major operative procedure associated with significant perioperative morbidity. Visual laser ablation of the prostate (VLAP) utilizing a neodymium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet laser represents a new technologic approach to the surgical management of BPH. We compared the relative safety and efficacy of these two surgical approaches in a prospective, randomized trial.

METHODS: At 6 investigational sites in the United States, 115 men with symptomatic BPH more than 50 years of age and not in retention, were randomly assigned to undergo either TURP (59 patients) of VLAP (56 patients). VLAP patients received a mean of 10,200 J of energy delivered in a mean of 5.5 intraprostate laser applications. At preoperative baseline, 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year postoperatively, all patients underwent clinical evaluations, including ultrasonic prostatic volume determination, standardized American Urological Association (AUA)-6 symptom score, peak urine flow, postvoid residual urine volume, and quality-of-life assessment.

RESULTS: Compared to TURP, the VLAP procedure required less time (23.4 versus 45.2 minutes; P < 0.01) and shorter hospitalization (1.8 versus 3.1 days, P < 0.01). VLAP was associated with a significantly lower rate of serious treatment-related complications compared to TURP (10.7% versus 35.6%; P < 0.01). Only One (2.2%) patient undergoing VLAP experienced a greater than 2.2 g/dL decrease in hemoglobin compared to 40% of TURP patients (P = 0.01). No patient in the VLAP group required blood transfusion compared with 3.4% of those undergoing TURP. Of the 115 patients, clinical outcomes measured at 1 year showed a mean improvement in AUA-6 symptom scores of -9.0 for VLAP compared with -13.3 for TURP (P < 0.04), mean increase in peak urinary flow rate of 5.3 cc/s for VLAP compared with 7.0 cc/s for TURP (P = 0.27), and mean decrease in postvoid residual urine volume of -55.4 cc for VLAP compared with -138.8 cc for TURP (P < 0.01). At 1 year, 78.2% of patients undergoing VLAP indicated that their quality of life was improved compared with 93.0% of patients undergoing TURP (P = 0.03). When compared with TURP, treatment of BPH with VLAP is associated with less hemoglobin decrease, a lower likelihood of serious complication, and requires less procedure time and a shorter hospital stay. Through a 1-year follow-up, VLAP produced significant improvement over baseline in objective and subjective outcome measures. However, for 1-year improvement in AUA-6 symptom score, postvoid residual urine volume, and quality of life, VLAP was less effective than TURP.

CONCLUSIONS: In this initial study in the United States, with relatively low-energy laser applications, VLAP did not result in as complete a removal of prostatic tissue as did TURP. Considering the lower morbidity, shorter procedure and hospitalization times, and the degree of effectiveness that was achieved even at the low-energy doses used in this study, VLAP appears to be a viable and safe alternative to standard TURP.

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