NICE approves PLASMA system for enlarged prostate

NICE has issued final guidance giving the go-ahead for the use of the PLASMA system in treating men who suffer with an enlarged prostate.

The PLASMA system uses electrodes to cut out prostate tissue and stop any local bleeding afterwards, reducing the risk of serious complications.

Clinical outcomes are the same as the conventional monopolar transurethral resection of the prostate (mTURP) operation, but PLASMA avoids the risk of transurethral resection syndrome and reduces the need for blood transfusion and the length of hospital stay. This means that the treatment costs are less than for mTURP – saving hospitals up to £534 per procedure.

One in three men over the age of 50 have symptoms of an enlarged prostate, including the need to urinate more frequently, with more urgency and have difficulty emptying their bladder.

Surgery is offered to patients with prostate enlargement if their problems in passing urine are severe or if drug treatment and lifestyle changes have been unsuccessful. Around 15,000 prostate resection procedures are carried out each year in England and Wales.

Meindert Boysen, director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE, said: "Surgery can completely change a man's quality of life and the evidence seen by our committee shows this treatment is clinically effective and cost-saving to the NHS."

Cost modelling estimates that the PLASMA system saves £459 per procedure compared with mTURP, assuming a reduced two-day length of stay. Evidence also suggests there are reduced readmissions compared with mTURP, increasing the cost saving to between £418 and £534 for each operation.  More than 110 centres across the NHS are able to offer the PLASMA procedure.

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