A pioneering prostate treatment which means tens of thousands of men could be spared major surgery has been given the green light.
NHS watchdogs have approved the new technique to treat one of the most common medical complaints facing older men.
Around half of men over the age of 50 suffer from an enlarged prostate, which can reduce bladder capacity, causing repeated night-time trips to the lavatory.
Mild symptoms can be controlled by drugs, but they can cause side-effects such as loss of libido.
Every year, around 45,000 men undergo surgery to treat an enlarged prostate .
But this requires a general anaesthetic, several days in hospital and can damage sexual function and fertility.
The new technique, which can be done as a day case, uses tiny plastic beads to block the blood supply and shrink the enlarged gland.
Until now, it was only available as part of research trials.
Now the National Institute for Care and Excellence (Nice) has approved the treatment – called prostate artery embolization – for routine use, after considering its safety and effectiveness.
Surgeons said they hoped it would be available across the country within two years.
Dr Nigel Hacking, who led a study into the effectiveness of the treatment, said it would act as a “bridge” between drugs and surgery, bringing help to tens of thousands of men suffering distressing problems on a daily basis.