What Is the Required Certainty of Evidence for the Implementation of Novel Techniques for the Treatment of Benign Prostatic Obstruction?

Mark J. Speakman* (Corresponding Author), Jean-Nicolas Cornu, Mauro Gacci, Christian Gratzke, Charalampos Mamoulakis, Thomas R. W. Herrmann, Muhammad Imran Omar, Malte Rieken, Kari A.O. Tikkinen, Stavros Gravas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
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A large number of minimally invasive techniques have been developed for the surgical management of male lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) presumed to be secondary to benign prostatic obstruction (BPO) over the last 3 decades. Many have not stood the test of time often because they were overpromoted before there were sufficient data.


The scope of this paper is to consider whether new devices, for the treatment of male LUTS/BPO, have been implemented prematurely in the past. We also examine the relative certainty of evidence (CoE) that is currently available for newer developing technologies and make recommendations about the CoE that should be demanded in the future before widespread implementation.

Key messages

This evidence must provide adequate length of follow-up to allow proper information to be provided for patients before treatment choices are made and to be able to create recommendations in high-quality guidelines such as those of the European Association of Urology. It is not just within the domain of LUTS treatments that this is important, other urological devices, such as mesh devices, have been equally “guilty” and likewise devices in most other (surgical) specialities. We believe that there is a need for a set of requirements built around primary randomised controlled trials (RCTs) looking at both efficacy and safety, and secondary studies to confirm the reproducibility and generalisability of the first pivotal studies. Otherwise, there is a danger that a single pivotal study can be overexploited by device manufacturers. Studies that are needed include (1) proof of concept, (2) RCTs on efficacy and safety, as well as (3) cohort studies with a broad range of inclusion and exclusion criteria to confirm both reproducibility and generalisability of the benefits and harms. It is not the purpose of this paper to make judgements about individual treatments but simply to look at different treatments to provide verification for this debate.

Patient summary

Many new treatment devices have been developed over the last 20–30 yr, often with inadequate medium- to long-term results. Many have not stood the test of time, but were heavily promoted by manufacturers, the press, and some doctors when they were first released, meaning that many patients had unsatisfactory results. This paper proposes minimum standards for the investigation of new treatments before their widespread promotion to patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-356
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Urology Focus
Issue number3
Early online date14 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Benign
  • Certainty of evidence
  • Core outcomes
  • Lower urinary tract symptoms
  • Minimally invasive treatments
  • Prostatic obstruction


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