Hamburg’s “Aqua-Beam” Robot: Making Waves in Urology Treatment
At some point in life, an average of 1 in every 4 men (over the age of 50) are diagnosed with benign prostate enlargement, which is a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia. However, the success of a new wave of treatment using an “Aqua-Beam” robot is rippling far beyond Hamburg, and men all over the world are taking notice. The department of urology at the Asklepios Clinic Harburg has already successfully treated nearly 200 men affected by these benign prostate tumors using the state-of-the-art system. This innovative new treatment uses robot-assisted aquablation therapy, which combines the imaging technology of ultrasound equipment with the keyhole techniques of a cystoscope. This technique gives the surgeon, usually a urologist, significantly more control and better information to improve real-time decision making during a procedure.
The Aqua-Beam robot, which has been in operation for more than a year at Asklepios, uses computer technology along with precise measurements produced by ultrasound to clearly mark the enlarged tissue. Once the surgical area has been accurately marked, a high-pressure water stream precisely and gently removes the unwanted tissue. With this new technology, Asklepios surgeons are able to reduce operating times by nearly 50% -- cutting the actual procedure time down to about five minutes on average. This ablation procedure is significantly less invasive and has other important advantages including heat-free and gentler procedure, less risk of damaging the sphincter muscles, reduction in post-operative complaints such as incontinence, and generally faster recovery times.
With the Aqua-Beam robot, the Asklepios Clinic Harburg has introduced the world to its promising possibilities. Its international appeal is clear, and patients in Europe and as far away as Russia and Saudi Arabia have already been treated. "For our clinic and especially the urology department, it is encouraging proof that not only patients from Hamburg place their trust in us, but that our expertise is also in demand internationally. The trust of the patients is the greatest praise for our work", says Philipp Noack, Managing Director of the Asklepios Hospital in Harburg.
Mr. Noack’s words reflect the tremendous success of Prof dr. Thorsten Bach and his team in the urology department. Since the first operation last year, the clinic has become the world’s largest center for aquablation surgery on the prostate as well as a respected international training facility for surgeons and medical teams using aquablation therapy. "The patients that have visited us for follow-up so far show significantly fewer symptoms during urination than was previously the case. Three-quarters of them also remain able to achieve ejaculation, which is considerably more than with other methods", explains Professor Bach.
Even though these tumors are usually not harmful, this overgrowth usually results in severe pain when urinating or during sexual intercourse, and often leads to other conditions such as kidney disease and problems in the urinary tract. The AquaBeam method is an approved treatment for patients in Germany, however, patients who take an anticoagulant are not recommended for this treatment.