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What is a GreenLight&Trade; Laser?

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  • Written By: Toni Henthorn
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2016
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The GreenLight™ laser is a system designed to deliver intense laser energy to the prostate gland in order to treat benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), which is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. Lying near the bladder, the prostate, which produces the white seminal fluid of male ejaculate, surrounds the urethra or urinary canal through which urine flows from the bladder. When the prostate enlarges, the bladder fails to empty entirely due to impingement on the urethra by the prostate. GreenLight™ laser therapy vaporizes the swollen prostate tissue, restoring normal flow of urine through the urethra.

Most men develop benign prostatic hypertrophy by the age of 80. Typical symptoms of BPH include frequent need to urinate, trouble getting started with urination, poor flow of urine, and dribbling of urine. The traditional treatment for BPH is the transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), by which the enlarged prostate is surgically removed. Although the TURP is highly effective, it has some serious side effects, including bleeding, incontinence, and erectile dysfunction. The recovery period of a TURP is typically four to six weeks.

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Urologists can perform the GreenLight™ laser therapy in an outpatient setting if the patient is otherwise healthy. Clinical studies reveal that the treated patients experience restoration of normal urine flow within 24 hours of the procedure and a return to their normal daily activities within a few days. Less than one percent of the treated patients had erectile dysfunction, and the procedure is almost bloodless. Patients who required a special tube to be inserted in order to pass urine postoperatively kept the tube in for less than 24 hours. Some cases required no catheterization.

Postoperatively, most patients have mild burning with urination for one week after the GreenLight™ laser procedure. The urine may also be slightly blood-tinged. There is a slight chance of urinary tract infection, which can be managed with antibiotics. Some patients may experience a retrograde ejaculation, with no fluid coming out of the penis during climax. The dry climax does not influence the ability to have an erection or the feeling of the orgasm.

More than 375,000 patients worldwide have undergone the GreenLight™ laser procedure for BPH. The treatment results in these cases have provided sustained relief from symptoms for at least five years. Studies are underway to expand the range of patients who are eligible for treatment with the GreenLight™ laser, including high-risk patients on blood thinners with extremely large prostates. Additionally, new applications for the laser are being evaluated, including the potential for treating superficial bladder cancers.

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