Transurethral microwave therapy (TUMT) is an outpatient procedure to treat urinary symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate, a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). In determining the right treatment choice, your doctor will consider how severe your symptoms are, what other health problems you have, and the size and shape of your prostate.
TUMT is one of several treatment options for an enlarged prostate to ease urinary symptoms and complications resulting from blocked urine flow.
Complications of an enlarged prostate include:
- Frequent, urgent need to urinate
- Difficulty starting urination
- Slow (prolonged) urination
- Increased frequency of urination, especially at night (nocturia)
- Stopping and starting again while urinating
- The feeling you can't completely empty your bladder
- Urinary tract infections
During TUMT, a small microwave antenna is inserted through the tip of your penis into the tube that carries urine from your bladder (urethra). Your doctor extends the antenna until it reaches the area of the urethra surrounded by the prostate. The antenna emits a dose of microwave energy that heats up and destroys excess prostate tissue blocking urine flow. TUMT takes about an hour and you'll be given a local anesthetic to numb the prostate area
TUMT improves urinary flow in some, but not all, men. This procedure is generally more effective than are medications at improving urine flow, but less effective than surgical methods, such as transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), HoLEP and open simple prostatectomy. It may take some time, from weeks to months, to see the results of the procedure.
However, TUMT has several advantages over surgery:
- It can be done on an outpatient basis, eliminating an overnight hospital stay
- It doesn't require general or spinal anesthesia.
- It has a lower risk of causing heavy bleeding.
- It's less likely to cause erectile dysfunction or other sexual side effects.
- It's an option for men who need to avoid surgery because of other health problems.
During the TUMT procedure, the urologist will insert a microwave antenna into your urethra and position it in place. A thermometer is inserted into your rectum to check temperature. Both will have balloons attached that hold them in place. Your doctor may check the placement of the catheter and the rectal thermometer using an ultrasound machine. The microwave antenna will cause just enough heat to destroy the prostate tissue blocking your urine flow, but not enough to damage other tissue.
You'll may feel some heat and discomfort in the prostate and bladder areas for which your doctor can give you pain medication. You'll need to stay as still as possible during the actual microwave treatment. The length of treatment time can vary. During treatment, you may have a strong desire to urinate and may feel bladder spasms — these sensations usually go away after the treatment is finished.
After TUMT, you may have a tube (Foley catheter) inserted into the tip of your penis that extends into your bladder. This allows you to pass urine until you can urinate on your own.
Short-term side effects of TUMT can include:
- Blood in your urine (hematuria). This shouldn't last more than a few days after the procedure.
- Irritating urinary symptoms. You may experience painful urination, difficulty urinating, or an urgent or frequent need to urinate.
These symptoms usually improve within a few weeks.
Several weeks to months may pass before you see a noticeable improvement in urinary symptoms. That's because your body needs time to break down and absorb overgrown prostate tissue that's been destroyed by microwave energy.
After TUMT, it's important to have a digital rectal exam once a year to check your prostate and screen for prostate cancer, as you would normally. If you notice any worsening urinary symptoms, make an appointment to see your doctor. Some men need retreatment in time.