Innovative “Aqua-Beam” Robot: Making Waves in Hamburg and Beyond
At some point in life, an average of 1 in every 4 men (over the age of 50) gets diagnosed with benign prostate enlargement, which is a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). 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. Since August 2017, 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. With a new operative location since February 2019, the Asklepios Clinics have 3 hospitals where the Aqua-Beam robot is being used—Hamburg-Harburg, Hamburg-Barmbek, and Wiesbaden.
The Aqua-Beam robot 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 aquablation 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 these Aqua-Beam robots, the Asklepios Clinics have 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.
These words reflect the tremendous success of these urology departments. Since the first operation last year, Germany is home to the world’s largest center for aquablation surgery on the prostate. And the urology department in Harburg is well-respected international training facility for surgeons and medical teams. "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 are still 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.