A Lasting Solution

An advanced robotic therapy is helping men get back to the life they love.

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  • Photographed by
    JP Cordero

Benign prostatic hyperplasia. That’s the medical term for enlargement of the prostate gland, and many men in their 50s and older suffer from this progressive, frustrating condition. If left untreated, an enlarged prostate can cause significant health problems, including irreversible bladder or kidney damage, bladder stones and incontinence. The condition can also cause symptoms including urgent urination and poor urinary flow, as well as lead to a complete blockage. Surgical treatment options often force men to choose between symptom relief and irreversible complications.

Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center is the first hospital in the San Fernando Valley and surrounding communities—and one of just three in Los Angeles County—to provide Aquablation, a state-of-the-art robotic procedure to treat men with enlarged prostates. Recently, urologists Richard Shapiro, MD, and Ali Afshar, MD, successfully performed the hospital’s first three Aquablation treatments.

Aquablation therapy is a minimally invasive treatment that uses a powerful water jet that moves at nearly the speed of sound. Using a combination of real-time ultrasound and direct vision through a tiny camera inserted through the urethra, the robot controls removal of the excess prostate tissue. Studies show the procedure is safe and highly effective, results in minimal bleeding, and guards against complications that include sexual side effects and incontinence. Most cases are covered by Medicare.

One of the recent treatments using Aquablation therapy, which Dr. Afshar estimated would take 90 minutes using other procedures, took just 26 minutes to complete. “Fantastic,” he said of the inaugural run. “We couldn’t have been happier with the results. All had good recoveries.”

Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana has a long waitlist of patients seeking relief. Dr. Shapiro expects that once the word is out about the new technology, men will travel significant distances for the procedure. “Our patients have been waiting and saying, ‘When it’s available, let us know,’” he says. 

The AquaBeam Robotic System is the first FDA-cleared surgical robot utilizing automated tissue resection for the treatment of enlarged prostate. Few hospitals have obtained the technology and training. In fact, Dr. Shapiro and Dr. Afshar traveled to Phoenix to train on the procedure. 

Dr. Shapiro believes the procedure will replace all current standard treatments for enlarged prostate. This option appeals to men who have tried medication but are looking for a lasting solution with minimal risk of irreversible complications. 

For men impacted by benign prostatic hyperplasia, Aquablation therapy allows them to take back what they love most about life and experience long-term relief. It’s just another way Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center continues to provide compassionate care as they have done since 1973.

Richard Shapiro, MD, FACS

Dr. Shapiro is a graduate of the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. He earned his medical degree from Rush University in Chicago, where he was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha, the National Medical Honor Society. He completed his surgery and urology training at UCLA, his advanced training in oncology and pediatrics at USC and is board-certified by the American Board of Urology. Dr. Shapiro is currently a clinical professor of urology at USC. He most recently served as chief of the medical staff at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center.

Ali Afshar, MD

Dr. Afshar became interested in urology while doing oncology research at Vanderbilt University. He finished his urology residency at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in 2016 and a fellowship in advanced endourology and robotic surgery at USC in 2017. Dr. Afshar has practiced in the San Fernando Valley since 2017, while maintaining clinical privileges at Cedars-Sinai, where he is an attending urologist and is involved with the urology residency teaching program. His training provides expertise in many procedures, including robotic-assisted radical prostatectomy,l nephrectomy, nephroureterectomy and upper tract reconstruction.

Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center | Urology Services 18321 Clark St., Tarzana, 818-881-0800 providence.org/tarzana