Transurethral needle ablation (TUNA)

Transurethral needle ablation (TUNA) is an outpatient procedure to treat urinary symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate, a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This procedure is also called radiofrequency ablation or RF therapy.

During TUNA, a specially adapted visual instrument (cystoscope) is inserted through the tip of your penis into the tube that carries urine from your bladder (urethra). Using the cystoscope, your doctor guides a pair of tiny needles into the prostate tissue that is pressing on the urethra. Then radio waves are passed through the needles to create scar tissue. This scarring shrinks prostate tissue, opening up the urinary channel so that urine can flow more easily.

TUNA is one of several options for treating BPH. To determine the right treatment choice for you, your doctor will consider how severe your symptoms are, what other health problems you have, and the size and shape of your prostate.


Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect Results

TUNA is used to ease urinary symptoms and complications resulting from blocked urine flow, such as:

  • Frequent, urgent need to urinate
  • Difficulty starting urination
  • Slow (prolonged) urination
  • Increased frequency of urination at night (nocturia)
  • Stopping and starting again while urinating
  • The feeling you can't completely empty your bladder
  • Urinary tract infections

A number of procedures are available to treat BPH. In the long term, TUNA may be less effective than surgical options, such as transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) and open prostatectomy. But TUNA has several advantages over traditional surgery:

  • It's typically done without an overnight hospital stay (on an outpatient basis).
  • It's less likely to cause bleeding and other complications than does surgery.
  • It may be a safer alternative if surgery isn't a good choice for you because of certain other health problems.
  • It is less likely to cause difficulty holding urine (urinary incontinence) than is surgery.
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