Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or benign prostatic enlargement (BPE) is an extremely common condition in elderly men and is a major cause of bladder outflow obstruction.
The term benign prostatic hypertrophy was formerly used for this condition, but since there is actually an increase in the number of epithelial and stromal cells in the periurethral area of the prostate, not an enlargement of cells, the more accurate term is hyperplasia.
Although the term prostatomegaly is often used interchangeably with BPH, strictly speaking prostatomegaly may refer to any cause of prostatic enlargement.
By the age of 60, 50% of men have BPH, and by 90 years of age the prevalence has increased to 90%. As such it is often thought of essentially as a 'normal' part of ageing 1.
Although a degree of prostatomegaly may be completely asymptomatic, the most common presentation is with lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) including 1-4:
- poor stream despite straining
- hesitancy, frequency and incomplete emptying of the bladder
An enlarged prostate may also be incidentally found on imaging of the pelvis or on rectal exam.
The international prostate symptom score (IPSS) is an 8 question (7 symptom questions + 1 quality of life question) scoring system used in assessing clinical severity, tracking symptoms and aiding management in benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia is due to a combination of stromal and glandular hyperplasia, predominantly of the transitional zone (as opposed to prostate cancer which typically originates in the peripheral zone).
Androgens (DHT and testosterone) necessary for the development of BPH, but are not the direct cause for the hyperplasia.
- increasing age
- family history
- race: Blacks > Whites > Asians
- cardiovascular disease
- use of beta-blockers
- metabolic syndrome: diabetes, hypertension, obesity 8
Complications of untreated benign prostatic hyperplasia include 4:
- urinary retention
- bladder calculi and bladder diverticula
- recurrent urinary tract infection
- recurrent gross haematuria
- hydronephrosis and hydroureter and eventual renal failure
- prostate specific antigen (PSA): elevated but non-specific
Ultrasound has become the standard first line investigation after the urologist's finger.
- there is an increase in volume of the prostate with a calculated volume exceeding 30 mL (width x height x length x 0.52)
- the central gland is enlarged, and is hypoechoic or of mixed echogenicity
- calcification may be seen both within the enlarged gland as well as in the pseudocapsule (representing compressed peripheral zone)
- post-micturition residual volume is typically elevated
On IVP, the bladder floor can be elevated and the distal ureters lifted medially (J-shaped ureters or fishhook ureters). Chronic bladder outlet obstruction can lead to detrusor hypertrophy, trabeculation and formation of bladder diverticula.
Not typically used to assess the prostate, BPH is more frequently an incidental finding. Extension above the symphysis pubis was used as a marker on axial imaging, however now that volume acquisition and coronal reformats are standard, the same criteria as on US can be used (>30 mL).
- enlarged central zone
- heterogenous signal with an intact low signal pseudocapsule in the periphery
Treatment and prognosis
Medical management for early disease typically commences with finasteride (a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor).
Surgical management for symptomatic patients is typically with a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), and careful patient selection is important given the high prevalence of both BPH and lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) in this population.
Urodynamic studies and prostate size estimation are often used to guide therapy, although prostate size in isolation is a poor predictor of symptom severity 4.
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- 4. Grossfeld GD, Coakley FV. Benign prostatic hyperplasia: clinical overview and value of diagnostic imaging. Radiol. Clin. North Am. 2000;38 (1): 31-47. - Pubmed citation
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- 6. Jepsen JV, Bruskewitz RC. Comprehensive patient evaluation for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Urology. 1998;51 (4A Suppl): 13-8. Pubmed citation
- 7. Scheckowitz EM, Resnick MI. Imaging of the prostate. Benign prostatic hyperplasia. Urol. Clin. North Am. 1995;22 (2): 321-32. Pubmed citation
- 8. Pathy's principles and practice of geriatric medicine. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN:0470683937. Read it at Google Books - Find it at Amazon
- prostate tumours
- infections of the prostate
- benign prostatic hypertrophy
- cystic lesions of the prostate
- prostate cancer