NICE has approved the use of transurethral water vapour ablation for lower urinary tract symptoms caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia.

It is one of several options for treating a condition which effects a large number of men, a significant number of whom do not seek treatment for it.

Current treatment options include drugs such as alpha blockers and 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors.

If other treatments have not worked, there are a range of surgical options including transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP).

Potential complications of some surgical procedures include bleeding, infection, urethral strictures, incontinence and sexual dysfunction.

Transurethral water vapour ablation involves a retractable needle being inserted into the prostate and steam (at a temperature of about 103 degrees centigrade) is delivered for 8 to 10 seconds. The heat disrupts cell membranes in the prostate, leading to rapid cell death. The needle is retracted and repositioned several times so the procedure can be repeated in different areas of the gland.

The aim is to reduce the size of the prostate, leading to improvement in lower urinary tract symptoms 1 to 3 months after treatment, without impairing sexual function.

Patients may have to take antibiotics and have a urinary catheter for some days after the procedure. Some activities, including sexual intercourse, should be avoided for up to one month.

The benefits to this treatment could mean patients can be seen as day cases and it may cause less sexual dysfunction than other operations.

Professor Kevin Harris, programme director and clinical advisor for the Interventional Procedures Programme at NICE, said: “This treatment is one of a number of options that are effective and safe for benign prostatic hyperplasia.

“Approving this procedure gives men the chance to talk to their clinician about which is right for them.”