Laser Prostate Surgery

  1. Holmium Laser Enucleation of the Prostate
  2. Overview
  3. Our HoLEP Surgeons
  4. Patient Information Sheet
  5. Surgical videos
  6. Patient Testimonials
  7. Private Patients

Holmium Laser Enucleation of the Prostate


Holmium Laser Enucleation of the Prostate, otherwise known as HoLEP, is a surgical technique available for the treatment of urinary symptoms due to benign enlargement of the prostate (BPH). It is the only laser technique recommended by NICE (the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) for the treatment of BPH in the UK and is recommended for men with prostates of any size.


HoLEP was developed by 2 New Zealand Urologists, Peter Gilling and Mark Fraundorfer, in the 1990’s. There are a large number of published clinical trials that support it as a new “Gold Standard” for treating BPH. HoLEP has been performed at Addenbrookes Hospital since Mr Aho (who trained with Messrs Gilling and Fraundorfer) was appointed as a consultant urologist in 2004. We are the most experienced HoLEP centre in the UK having performed more than 1000 HoLEP procedures. Addenbrookes is recognised as a centre of excellence for HoLEP. Urology teams from the UK and abroad attend our training meetings to learn how to set up and run a successful HoLEP service. Click here for an example of a meeting.

Advantages of HoLEP

HoLEP was developed to improve the effectiveness, safety and durability of surgery for BPH. The main advantages of HoLEP over Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP) which has been in use for the past 50 years include:

  • More tissue removed
  • Suitable for men with prostates of any size
  • Can be used in men who have bleeding disorders or are on blood thinners (eg. Aspirin, clopidogrel and warfarin)

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Where is the Prostate and What Does it Do?

Unless affected by BPH the prostate is a walnut sized gland. It is only found in men and is a solid organ with a hollow channel running through it’s centre that is situated between the bladder and the urethra tube. Urine travels from the bladder through the channel in the prostate and into the urethra when urinating. The prostate is tiny in childhood, grows during puberty and is the only organ that continues to grow throughout life. It is this growth later in life that can cause urinary problems.
The prostate produces some of the fluid in semen. Men can live a perfectly healthy life if part or even all of the prostate is removed surgically.

Why are urinary symptoms (waterworks problems) important in men?

Urinary symptoms are the most common and bothersome symptoms affecting men beyond middle age. They may indicate a serious underlying problem and are therefore important to inform your doctor about. There are a number of potential causes for urinary symptoms in men but by far the most common is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH).

What symptoms can be caused by BPH?

  • BPH leads to a physical growth of the prostate which may compress the prostate channel causing the urinary stream to slow, an intermittent flow (stopping and starting during urination), and straining to begin urination
  • After a while the bladder tries to compensate for the prostate blockage by becoming muscular and more powerful. This leads to the bladder becoming “unstable” with the bladder muscle contracting more frequently and forcefully than previously. This can increase the number of times you pass urine day and night and cause urgency (a sensation of having to rush to the toilet to pass urine at times).
  • Sometimes as the prostate grows it can cause blood to appear in the urine
  • If the prostate blockage prevents the bladder from emptying properly, there is an increased risk of developing urinary infections, and forming bladder stones in the pool of stagnant urine in the bladder. Rarely, if the bladder is always full, back pressure can be transmitted up to the kidneys and this can cause kidney failure.
  • In men who have a degree of prostate obstruction there may be a sudden inability to pass urine. This leads to the very painful complication of urinary retention which is treated initially by placement of a urethral catheter. In most men who experience painful urinary retention it is appropriate to consider surgery to allow successful removal of the catheter and to prevent retention from occurring again in future.

What common tests are performed to identify urinary symptoms due to BPH?

The main purpose of tests done to investigate men with urinary symptoms are to:

  1. Rule out cancer.
    This is done by testing a urine sample, performing a blood test (Prostate Specific Antigen- PSA), and examining the prostate by rectal examination.
  2. Look for evidence of prostate obstruction.
    This is done by measuring a urine flow test and checking how well the bladder has emptied by scanning it soon after passing urine.

What are the treatment options for urinary symptoms due to BPH?

  1. Lifestyle changes
    For men with minimal urinary symptoms the impact of these symptoms on their lives can be minimised by decreasing alcohol and caffeine intake and reducing fluid intake in the evening
  2. Medical treatment
    Two types of tablets are available for treating BPH:

    • Alpha blockers relax the muscle in the prostate and bladder neck to help widen the prostate channel when urinating.
    • 5-alpha reductase inhibitors shrink the prostate
    • Some plant extracts such as saw palmetto are also favoured by some men and can improve urinary symptoms
  3. Surgical treatment
    For men whose urinary symptoms are a nuisance/impair quality of life, and who either :

    • Don’t like to be on longterm medication
    • Have side effects from the medication
    • Don’t respond to the medication
    • Are bleeding from their prostate repeatedly
    • Have urinary infections due to their prostate
    • Have bladder stones
    • Have urinary retention
    • Have kidney failure due to their prostate
    • Surgery (HoLEP or TURP) may be an appropriate treatment.

BPH in numbers

  • Urinary symptoms due to BPH affect 3.2 million men in the UK.
  • Only 400,000 receive treatment despite effective treatments being readily available

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Our HoLEP Surgeons

Mr Tev Aho

Tev AhoTev moved from New Zealand to Cambridge in 2003. He completed most of his urology training in NZ where he spent a year learning HoLEP surgery from the urologists who invented it.

As the lead for male urinary symptoms at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Tev set up the HoLEP service in Cambridge in 2004. He has now performed more than 1100 HoLEP surgeries (one of the largest personal series in the UK) and established Addenbrooke’s as a centre of excellence for HoLEP. He has convened 6 HoLEP training meetings at Addenbrookes where up to 80 delegates at a time have attended from the UK and abroad to learn how to perform HOLEP. Patients from around the UK and a number of other countries have had their HoLEPs performed by Tev in Cambridge (see patient testimonials).

Tev is committed to surgical training and was the founding President of the UK Holmium User Group. He has since designed and implemented the UK Training Programme for HoLEP and mentored a number of surgeons in the UK and abroad. He is also the Urology Training Programme Director in the East of England.

Tev was involved in some of the early HoLEP clinical trials and has published and presented widely on the subject

Mr Christof Kastner

Christof Kastner has been a Consultant Urologist based in Cambridge since 2009.

His specialist training took place in hospitals including Guy’s Hospital, UCL (both in London) and the Prostate Centre in Guildford, and in Cambridge he has lead the Prostate Cancer team for several years and is now the Clinical director of the hospital’s Outpatient department. For his collaborative efforts in training of Italian residents Mr Kastner has held a professorship in Rome.

For men presenting with symptoms of prostate enlargement or the suspicion of prostate cancer, Mr Kastner can offer a wealth of expertise based on his experience and evidence and allowing an individually tailored assessment and treatment using minimally invasive approaches to minimise side-effects.

For patients with symptoms suggesting benign obstruction of the urinary flow by the prostate (Lower urinary tract symptoms or LUTS) Mr Kastner offers Holmium Laser Enucleation of Prostate (HoLEP) – He has performed more than 1,000 HoLEPs since 2007. Mr Kastner’s relevant outcomes relating to improvement of symptoms, hospital stay, blood transfusion rate and incontinence are excellent.

Mr Kastner is one of the internationally leading experts in assessment and treatment of benign and cancerous prostatic disease. Having formed an international collaboration between his colleagues in Cambridge and other centres in Europe and Australia, he has been senior author of multiple publications, which have changed the approach to prostatic disease assessment and management.



Mr Jim Armitage

James was appointed as a Consultant Urological Surgeon at Addenbrooke’s hospital in 2012 where he became the third surgeon offering HoLEP.

He studied medicine at Guys and St Thomas’ Hospitals in Londonand did his basic surgical training in Chichester. He then undertook a period of research investigating the epidemiology and management of benign prostatic hyperplasisa at The Royal College of Surgeons of Englandwhich led to the award of MD. James went on to complete his training in East Angliaduring which time he gained specialist experience at both the Norfolkand Norwichand Addenbrooke’s Teaching Hospitals.

James has interests in endourology and general urology, particularly benign prostatic hyperplasia and its surgical management. He maintains a strong academic interest, publishing in high quality peer-reviewed clinical journals and presenting his research locally, nationally and internationally.


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Patient Information Sheet

The latest information sheet can be found here.

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Surgical videos

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Patient Testimonials

Dear Mr. Aho,
I can’t tell you how thrilled I am with the results from my HoLEP surgery – for more than a decade I had to sit to urinate (couldn’t get enough stream going to stand) and now I feel like a boy again! Having researched the HoLEP procedure on-line, I was aware of your renowned reputation in the field so your excellent skills and experience as a surgeon and urologist were to be expected but I was pleasantly surprised to find you also had such a wonderful rapport with your patient easily explaining everything so clearly and taking the time to answer any and all questions). All phases of my treatment – from when I originally contacted Janice at Cambridge Urology Partners to arrange the surgery,the admission and pre-op at Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital, the surgery and recovery, to the final post-op appointment – were superb. The efficiency and helpfulness of everyone involved were truly impressive.

Following the successful surgery, I was able to be released earlier than expected the next day since I was “voiding successfully” within 7 hours of the catheter being removed and I did not have to use any pain medication at all after the surgery. Since you were able to remove the uric acid kidney stone lingering in my bladder during the procedure, that was a huge added benefit! It was also so considerate of you to schedule the post-op appointment where it was more convenient for me (how often do you find specialists doing that? – definitely would never find that happening where I live).

The surgery was August 18 and I was back home in South Carolina by the night of August 27 still amazed at how great my waterworks are functioning.
Again, many thanks to you and your team for everything – I am so grateful that I chose to come to Cambridge for treatment (it was a fraction of what it would have cost here in the U.S. and was light
years better treatment).

United States of America

Dear Mr Aho

I would like to thank you especially for carrying out the HoLEP procedure but also to thank you and your staff for all the peripheral work carried out.

I’d like to reiterate that the HoLEP procedure you carried out gave me a step change in quality of life. My urine flow now starts on demand and stops when I’ve finished, the flow rate is also markedly increased. However, the real positive changes have been to remove the worry of further acute urinary retention and to come off tamsulosin


Dear Tev

Both (my wife) and myself are very grateful that you were able to perform the operation so quickly and, more importantly, so successfully. Thanks again for all that you have done


Dear Mr Aho

I’d like to thank you very much for performing the HoLEP on me. The aftermath of the procedure turned out to be almost painless, and I was very happy to be discharged the day after the operation. I would also like to thank Janice for responding so promptly and helpfully to my questions.

The overall improvement in flow is dramatic, to say the least. It is a long time since I could stand well back from the toilet pan and hit the back of the pan in a forceful jet! But now I can. There is a noticeable sense of having cleared my bladder, something I haven’t felt for a long time.

I resumed sex with my wife on Day 15 with absolutely no discomfort, although there was no sense of definite ejaculation.. Absolutely no erectile dysfunction whereas before the operation my erection tended to lapse after a while


Dear Mr Aho

I really want to thank you most sincerely not only for your expertise but also for the patience with which you explained the HoLEP procedure and the gentle way in which you annulled all my fears and those of my wife. As you so rightly said it was an operation without any pain. Now that I am released from all the external plumbing and with everything back to working order I am looking forward to a tranquil and comfortable future.


Dear Mr Armitage,

I have just received a letter from you informing me that the tissue analysis from my prostate was clear of cancer. That has been good news for me but it also provides an opportunity to thank you formally for your, and for your team’s professional skills.

I was not clear which type of operation I was going to get on my enlarged prostate but I’d looked you up beforehand on line and was hopeful for laser surgery and relieved when you offered it. In the event the results were quite remarkable. From the very beginning, my urine flow was incredibly strong. It must have been like that when I was young but I can’t remember! Frequency reverted quickly to normal. (I had been going every hour prior to my prostate giving out.) My urine cleared of blood within 2-3 weeks and of scabs from the remodelled prostate in about 4. Even my sex life has been completely normal.

None of this could have happened without what you did. My father had the same condition as me and was operated on in 1963. It changed his life, albeit he made the absolute best of it. In my case it seems to have returned my life to normal.

Once more, many thanks,

Mr RT, 2013


Dear Mr Armitage,

Thank you for your letter, received this morning, with the good news it contains. I am indeed recovering well from the surgery, and would say I am already better than I have been for quite some time.

My wife wishes to join me in expressing gratitude for all the treatment I have received at Addenbrooke’s, culminating in the operation itself, and the skill with which it was conducted. Much care has been taken to put me at ease, alleviate and prevent pain where possible, and explain to us the course of action now proposed. I look forward to meeting you again when attending the clinic when the time comes.

Mr RL, 2013

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Private Patients

We can offer Saturday HoLEP operating lists at Addenbrookes Hospital for private patients:

What are the advantages of having my HoLEP done privately at Addenbrookes?

As the most experienced centre in the UK for HoLEP surgery, our highly skilled team will take care of you from the time that you decide to proceed with surgery until the time you are discharged from the urology service at your final clinic visit.

We have presented our HoLEP results and patient outcomes at national and international meetings and these are amongst the best in the world.

Our urology ward and operating theatres are situated in the modern Addenbrooke’s Treatment Centre which was opened in 2007 and offers state-of-the-art facilities.

For men with complex medical problems Addenbrooke’s offers the security of high quality comprehensive medical support if required.

At Addenbrooke’s we are able to offer an extremely competitive HoLEP package price for those who are paying their own fees. This is approximately half the price charged by private hospitals. We are also able to offer HoLEP to those who have medical insurance.

Waiting times for private HoLEP at Addenbrookes can be as short as several days and are up to 1 month at the most.

Will I have a room to myself?

All efforts are made to allocate single rooms to private patients, however this cannot be guaranteed as bed allocation is dependent on clinical priority and availability.

What about MRSA?

There has been much media interest in MRSA. At Addenbrookes we are fortunate to have a modern ward that is maintained to the highest standards of cleanliness. Staff follow strict infection control policies and MRSA infection is very rare. Patients who are very unwell and have multiple procedures/catheters/intravenous lines/tubes etc, and stay for long periods of time in hospital are those most at risk of MRSA infection. Men admitted for HoLEP have none of these risk factors.

How do I arrange private HoLEP surgery at Addenbrookes?

If you live in the UK or Ireland we require either a GP or urologist referral letter with details of your PSA (if you do not have a catheter), rectal examination and dipstick urine test results. We also need a list of your current medications and a summary of your medical history. Please print the International Prostate Symptom Score, fill it out according to the instructions and bring this with you to your first appointment. If you have seen a urologist previously it would be helpful if you could provide your flow rate and bladder scan (post void residual volume) measurements as well as your estimated prostate volume

If you are an international patient please also send as much of the above information as possible.

Please send referral letters and other information to:



OR Fax to:

+44 1223 348664

The HoLEP surgeons will assess the information you have submitted and respond to your enquiry. If deemed suitable a clinic appointment will be made to discuss HoLEP surgery and to arrange preassessment tests. A date for surgery will be booked and the Addenbrooke’s Paying Patients Office will arrange payment and admission details.

The usual length of stay (in 90% of men) is 1 night. If travelling from more than 2 hours drive away it is recommended that arrangements are made to spend 2 days in Cambridge after HoLEP before travelling home. A clinic follow up is usually booked 3 months after surgery.

For international patients it is recommended to stay a minimum of 1 week in the UK after surgery, and a check up appointment in clinic will be arranged before your departure

Terms and Conditions

Data Protection Notice

The confidentiality of patient information is of paramount concern to us. To this end, we fully comply with Data Protection Legislation and Medical Confidentiality Guidelines. Medical Information will be kept confidential. It will only be disclosed to those involved with your treatment or care, or to their agents, and, if applicable, to any person or organisation who may be responsible for meeting your treatment expenses, or their agents. Anonymised or aggregated data may be used by us for research or statistical purposes. Information may be disclosed to others with a view to preventing fraudulent or improper claims.

Terms and Conditions

  1. We will provide inpatient and outpatient care at the request of the medical practitioner who is supervising your treatment.
  2. Fees for services provided by other Consultants, pathologists and radiologists etc are additional charges made by us.
  3. If you are insured, it is advisable to check that the full costs of your treatment are covered by your insurance company prior to undergoing treatment by us.

Financial Agreement

  1. I agree to pay for the services provided, and have received details of our prices and terms of business
  2. If a third party or insurer has agreed to pay my account, I agree to pay any balance outstanding if the third party or insurer does not pay the account in full
  3. Insured Patients Only: I declare that my/the patient’s general practitioner recommended the specialist treatment and that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, the information given on this form is true and complete. I authorise Addenbrooke’s Hospital to submit claims relating to my/the patient’s treatment to my/the patient’s insurer on my/the patient’s behalf.

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