A randomised controlled trial to determine the clinical and cost effectiveness of thulium laser transurethral vaporesection of the prostate (ThuVARP) versus transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) in the National Health Service (NHS) – the UNBLOCS trial: a study protocol for a randomised controlled trial

Jo Worthington, Hilary Taylor, Paul Abrams, Sara Brookes, Nikki Cotterill, Sian Noble, Tobias Page, Satchi Swami, J. Athene Lane, Hashim Hashim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Background: Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) has been the standard operation for benign prostatic obstruction (BPO) for 40 years, with ~25,000 procedures performed annually, and has remained largely unchanged. It is generally a successful operation, but has well documented risks for the patient. Thulium laser transurethral vaporesection of the prostate (ThuVARP) vaporises and resects the prostate using a surgical technique similar to TURP. The small amount of study data currently available suggests that ThuVARP may have certain advantages over TURP, including reduced blood loss and shorter hospital stay, earlier return to normal activities, and shorter duration of catheterisation.

Design: A multi-centre, pragmatic, randomised, controlled, parallel-group trial of ThuVARP versus standard TURP in men with BPO. 410 men suitable for prostate surgery were randomised to receive either ThuVARP or TURP at four university teaching hospitals, and three district general hospitals. The key aim of the trial is to determine whether ThuVARP is equivalent to TURP judged on both the patient
reported International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) and the maximum urine flow rate (Qmax) at 12 months post-surgery.

Discussion: The general population has an increased life-expectancy. As men get older their prostates enlarge, potentially causing BPO, which often requires surgery. Therefore, as the population ages, more prostate operations are needed to relieve obstruction. There is hence sustained interest in the condition and increasing need to find safer techniques than TURP. Various laser techniques have
become available but none are widely used in the NHS because of lengthy training required for surgeons or inferior performance on clinical outcomes. Promising initial evidence from one RCT shows that ThuVARP has equivalent clinical effectiveness when compared to TURP, as well as other potential advantages. As ThuVARP uses a technique similar to that used in TURP, the learning curve is short, potentially making it also very quickly generalisable. This randomised study is designed to provide the high quality evidence, in an NHS setting, with a range of patient reported, clinical and costeffectiveness outcomes, which will underpin and inform future NICE guidance.

Trial registration: ISRCTN registry - ISRCTN00788389 (registration: 20 September 2013).
Original languageEnglish
Article number179
Number of pages11
JournalTrials
Volume18
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2017

Structured keywords

  • BTC (Bristol Trials Centre)
  • BRTC

Keywords

  • UNBLOCS
  • Prostate
  • Surgery
  • Lower urinary tract symptoms
  • Benign prostatic obstruction
  • Randomised controlled trial
  • Transurethral resection of the prostate
  • TURP
  • Thulium laser transurethral vaporesection of the prostate
  • ThuVARP

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