The Optilume BPH double-lobe balloon recently received FDA clearance. (Photo courtesy of Urotronic)

Benign prostatic hyperplasia — or BPH, more commonly known as an enlarged prostate — is common among older men. As many as 30% of those aged 80 or more years have severe enough symptoms — including urinary incontinence — to require treatment. 

One nonsurgical solution, balloon dilation, can be used to widen the urinary tract and has been around for several decades, but an innovative version of this tool recently received federal clearance and now is being used commercially. 

Medical device company Urotronic’s Optilume system was approved in July by the US Food and Drug Administration, offering a treatment option that the company claims is novel.

The double-balloon system is coated with a chemotherapy drug, paclitaxel, that helps maintain the urinary tract pathway and keep it from closing while it heals.

“There’s nothing else like Optilume BPH that’s currently available. It’s the only treatment option that requires no cutting, burning, steaming or implants,” Urotronic President and CEO David Perry said in a statement. “Drug-coated balloons are the future of interventional urology.”

Urinary incontinence is something that can use all the new care management tools it can get within nursing home systems, experts told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News last year.

Less than a week after clearance, the first successful clinical use was conducted at a urology clinic in Toronto, the company announced

Other drug-coated balloons, including ones with paclitaxel, have been cleared for use by the FDA, though mostly for use in treating peripheral artery disease, one story notes.

Balloon dilation is not the only technologic innovation in recent years designed to assist with enlarged prostate. One study showed that pulsed electromagnetic field therapy also could reduce urinary tract symptoms. 

It should be noted that although BPH is extremely common in seniors — 80% of men aged 70 or more have some form of it — the condition is not linked to developing prostate cancer, studies have shown.