HomeMedicine By SpecialtySurgerySurgeons given green light to treat prostate issues

Surgeons given green light to treat prostate issues

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New technology makes surgery less invasive, with easier recovery for patients 

When it comes to surgery for a prostate issue, most men don’t go into a hospital thinking the experience will have them smiling soon after. But such was the case for Jim Miller of Scarborough.

“Dr. (Jeff) Spodek did an amazing job,” he says enthusiastically, recalling the surgery. “He’s a great doctor, I just love the guy. I can’t say enough about (the experience).”

Originally coming to Rouge Valley Health System (RVHS) for care due to a fall in which he broke his hip, Miller found out he had an issue with his prostate because he was having complications with a catheter at the time. Brought to Dr. Spodek, he says, the urologist took a close look at his case and after an examination, determined Miller had an enlarged prostate that was causing him to retain urine.

After medications failed to correct it, and presented with the options for surgery, Miller called it a “no-brainer” to choose to go ahead with a new procedure using a GreenLightTM Laser. He learned that the old procedure required cutting and a longer hospital stay and with the laser, it was quicker and safer.


“I walked out of the hospital about five hours after I came in, without any pain,” he says. “I wasn’t supposed to lift anything heavy for a week, but other than that, life was normal.”

That’s generally how most cases of this nature go, says Dr. Spodek, head of the Urology Program at RVHS.

“In all cases, we actually try medications first, and once those fail, then we offer surgery,” Dr. Spodek says. “When we give patients the option of the standard (TURP) or the laser, everybody chooses the laser, because it’s a faster recovery.”

TURP stands for transurethral resection of the prostate and is a type of prostate surgery that relieves moderate to severe urinary symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). In the procedure, a doctor uses a resectoscope to trim away excess prostate tissue.

In comparison, by using the GreenLight™ Laser, patients:

  • have a shorter hospital stay (going home right after day surgery vs. staying two to three days in the hospital)
  • get a quick, minimally invasive (less cutting) and safer (less blood loss) state-of- the-art procedure
  • need a catheter for a shorter period of time (only 24 hours vs. up to three days)
  • don’t need to stop taking blood thinners (vs. being off them for two to three weeks which can increase the patient’s chance of having a heart attack or stroke)
  • resume normal activities in just seven days (vs. four weeks)

In Miller’s case, Dr. Spodek explains that the patient was experiencing residual urine in the bladder of as much as 500 to 700 ml. The average bladder capacity is 300 ml, so this type of retention put the patient at risk of any number of issues, such as bladder stones, recurrent urinary infections and worst case, the urine can actually back up into the kidneys and lead to kidney failure.


“He had the option of the standard TURP or the GreenLightTM Laser,” Dr. Spodek adds. “He elected for the GreenLight due to the advantages and he did extremely well afterwards.”

For Miller, he says he is proof that the healing is as fast as the doctors claimed. “I walked out with a catheter, but a nurse came the next morning to take it out and I was urinating again on my own in not much more than 24 hours,” he says.

This is the case for many patients, says Dr. Spodek. “It’s done as a day surgery, there’s no two-day hospital stay (as would be needed with a TURP),” he explains. “In terms of recovery at home, it’s faster, there’s less bleeding and there’s not a lot of pain.”

The GreenLightTM Laser is available at both Rouge Valley Centenary hospital and Rouge Valley Ajax and Pickering hospital after a successful RVHS Foundation fundraising campaign to purchase the machines.  It was made possible through donations and the support of fundraising events and sponsors over the course of the past year. The new technology is a great advantage to the well-respected urology program at RVHS and is helping improve men’s health care in east Toronto and west Durham Region.

 What is it that makes the Green Light Laser special?

  • A fiber delivers high-powered laser energy which quickly heats up the prostate tissue, vaporizing the prostate tissue that is blocking the flow of urine from the bladder;
  • The laser beam is easily focused on specific tissue, thus minimizing damage to the surrounding area;
  • The laser also seals blood vessels beneath the area of vaporization;
  • RVHS is the only hospital system in the Central East Local Health Integration Network with this new generation of technology for enlarged prostates.




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