Millions of older men who suffer from urinary obstruction and associated pain caused by an enlarged prostate gland could benefit from new treatment technology developed by a senior scientist MD at the Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories.
Drugs, surgery, and other devices are effective to various degrees in controlling and treating this condition, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), but the method developed by Sandia's Dr. Lawrence Larsen should have several advantages over existing ones it could be done on an outpatient basis and a single treatment should have long-lasting benefits, perhaps for the life of the BPH patient. Also, side effects should be almost nil from the minimally invasive technique, and treatment costs could be lowered, Larsen says.
His new endoscopic method uses an improved radio frequency (RF) "leaky-wave" applicator to deliver a uniform heating pattern along the length of the gland. The process shrinks the prostate by killing excess cells that typically grow as men age. The uniform heating pattern is a major improvement over some existing treatment devices. A US patent (6,051,018) was issued for this technology April 18.
Older men typically suffer prostate problems ranging from mild urinary obstruction to cancerous prostates that can even cause death. Larsen's technology is designed to treat benign prostate enlargements that cause urinary obstruction and pain, not cancerous problems. BPH does not necessarily lead to prostate cancer, he says, but is loosely coupled.
This work is a product of Sandia's Laboratory Directed Research and Development program as a dual-use application of radar technology and conformal antennas. It is related to the lab's projects in applied electromagnetics that affect diverse technologies, including communications, microwave power electronics, proximity fuzes, and directed energy.