TUNA (Transurethral needle ablation)

TUNA (transurethral needle ablation) uses heat to harden parts of the prostate tissue. This process is called ‘coagulation’. The treated part of the prostate is absorbed by the body or passed with urine after the procedure. The aim of TUNA is to reduce the size of the prostate and to improve symptoms.

TUNA is advised for men with a prostate between 30 to 80 millilitres who prefer to have surgery without an open cut (minimally invasive treatment) or who are not able to have surgery because of other medical conditions.

Advantages of TUNA

  • No hospital stay in most cases
  • Low risk of complications
  • No need to stop blood-thinning medication

Disadvantages of TUNA

  • Less effective for large prostates and severe difficulty urinating
  • Use of catheter at home for several days after the procedure
  • Slow improvement of symptoms and the flow of urine
  • May need another treatment after several years because the prostate continues to grow

How is TUNA performed?

For TUNA, you will receive medication to reduce worry (IV sedation) and to numb the area to be treated (local anaesthesia).

During TUNA, the doctor places a tube-like tool called a resectoscope in the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body). The resectoscope has two needles and a camera. This allows the doctor to see a high-quality image of the prostate on a video monitor.

The resectoscope is moved through the urethra into the bladder. The needles are used to puncture the prostate and to heat up the tissue with radiofrequency energy (Fig. 1). This is done 4 to 8 times to treat the enlarged part of the prostate (adenoma).

You will need a catheter for some days until the urethra is healed and you can urinate on your own. The catheter is removed by the urologist at the hospital or clinic.

Fig. 1: The needle heats up the prostate tissue with radiofrequency energy.
Fig. 1: The needle heats up the prostate tissue with radiofrequency energy.

How long will it take me to get back to my daily activities?

Usually, you can leave the hospital or clinic a few hours after TUNA. With the catheter still in your urethra, you can start getting back to your daily activities the next day. Your urine may contain traces of blood which can last up to several weeks.