Touching Lives - June 2004
Welcome relief for men with prostate and bladder problems
The symptoms are troublesome, such as the need to pass water frequently, and diagnosing the actual problem may not be straightforward.
But now a project funded by Action Medical Research has developed a new and non-invasive way of testing bladder pressure, to help doctors make an accurate diagnosis and recommend treatment.
The team at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, has developed and tested a new device that works on the same principle as a blood pressure monitor. Now, thanks to a grant extension from Action Medical Research, this exciting development is being trialled on 200 patients. Results so far have been extremely encouraging.
Mr Robert Pickard from the Department of Urology at the Freeman Hospital heads the team. He explained, “Doctors need to know the pressure inside the bladder in order to determine the best treatment, but previously this could only be measured by passing a tube down the penis into the bladder. It’s an uncomfortable procedure that can also lead to infection.
“The grant from Action Medical Research has helped us to develop the new equipment and by extensive testing we have proved that it is reliable and gives accurate readings.
“We place a cuff around the penis and this inflates and deflates twice while the patient urinates. It checks the pressure in the bladder and the computer can then combine the results with the actual urine flow, so that together the two readings give clinicians a much clearer picture of what the problem is. Some patients have a restriction at the bladder outlet, which affects the pressure, and when identified this can generally be treated successfully.”
The Freeman Hospital serves well over a million people, and its five ‘Prostate’ clinics see up to 50 patients a week. Mr Pickard said, “We see literally hundreds of new patients with these types of problems each year. Urinary problems can be extremely irritating and distressing, but ^with better diagnosis we can recommend the most appropriate treatment without the need for painful, invasive investigation.^”
Action Medical Research has given the £70,283 grant extension to the team which includes medical physicists Clive Griffiths and Michael Drinnan, who developed the equipment, Peter Ramsden and Christopher Harding from the Department of Urology and research nurse Wendy Robson.
The bladder pressure device is now being tested on men who are having a prostate operation, checking pressure both before and after surgery. The team hopes it will eventually be adopted as standard procedure across the NHS — to the undoubted relief of thousands of male patients nationwide!