Chronic Prostatitis

Management Strategies


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has redefined prostatitis into four distinct entities. Category I is acute bacterial prostatitis. It is an acute prostatic infection with a uropathogen, often with systemic symptoms of fever, chills and hypotension. The treatment hinges on antimicrobials and drainage of the bladder because the inflamed prostate may block urinary flow. Category II prostatitis is called chronic bacterial prostatitis. It is characterized by recurrent episodes of documented urinary tract infections with the same uropathogen and causes pelvic pain, urinary symptoms and ejaculatory pain. It is diagnosed by means of localization cultures that are 90% accurate in localizing the source of recurrent infections within the lower urinary tract. Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis comprises NIH category IV. This entity is, by definition, asymptomatic and is often diagnosed incidentally during the evaluation of infertility or prostate cancer. The clinical significance of category IV prostatitis is unknown and it is often left untreated. Category III prostatitis is called chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS). It is characterized by pelvic pain for more than 3 of the previous 6 months, urinary symptoms and painful ejaculation, without documented urinary tract infections from uropathogens. The syndrome can be devastating, affecting 10–15% of the male population, and results in nearly 2 million outpatient visits each year. The aetiology of CP/CPPS is poorly understood, but may be the result of an infectious or inflammatory initiator that results in neurological injury and eventually results in pelvic floor dysfunction in the form of increased pelvic muscle tone. The diagnosis relies on separating this entity from chronic bacterial prostatitis. If there is no history of documented urinary tract infections with a urinary tract pathogen, then cultures should be taken when patients are symptomatic. Prostatic localization cultures, called the Meares-Stamey 4 glass test, would identify the prostate as the source for a urinary tract infection in chronic bacterial prostatitis. If there is no infection, then the patient is likely to have CP/CPPS.

For healthcare providers, the focus of therapy is symptomatic relief. The first therapeutic measure is often a 4- to 6-week course of a fluoroquinolone, which provides relief in 50% of men and is more efficacious if prescribed soon after symptoms begin. Second-line pharmacotherapy involves anti-inflammatory agents for pain symptoms and α-adrenergic receptor antagonists (α-blockers) for urinary symptoms. Potentially more effective is pelvic floor training/biofeedback, but randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm this. Third-line agents include 5α-reductase inhibitors, glycosaminoglycans, quercetin, cernilton (CN-009) and saw palmetto. For treatment refractory patients, surgical interventions can be offered. Transurethral microwave therapy to ablate prostatic tissue has shown some promise.

The treatment algorithm provided in this review involves a 4- to 6-week course of antibacterials, which may be repeated if the initial course provides relief. Pain and urinary symptoms can be ameliorated with anti-inflammatories and α-blockers. If the relief is not significant, then patients should be referred for biofeedback. Minimally invasive surgical options should be reserved for treatment-refractory patients.

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Murphy, A.B., Macejko, A., Taylor, A. et al. Chronic Prostatitis. Drugs 69, 71–84 (2009).

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  • Pelvic Floor
  • Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
  • Prostatitis
  • Pelvic Floor Muscle
  • Finasteride