Objective: To determine the extent, pattern and clinical significance of asymptomatic histological inflammation and latent infection (National Institute of Health Category IV prostatitis) in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
Patients and methods: The study included 80 patients (from a cohort of 100 consecutive potentially eligible subjects) with a diagnosis of BPH, but no history or symptoms of prostatitis. Histological sections were obtained from specimens collected prospectively at transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), immunostained for leukocyte common antigen and scanned using a computerized image-analysis system. Foci of inflammation were categorized as glandular, periglandular, stromal or peri-urethral, and the inflammatory cell density graded from 1 to 3. Relationships and correlations were calculated between the volume, degree and type of inflammation, presence and type of bacteria (culture of deep prostatic biopsies), the use of catheters and prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels.
Results: Inflammation was identified in all patients but the mean tissue surface area involved was only 1.1% of the total specimen, with periglandular inflammation being the predominant pattern (0.5%). Of the prostate specimens, 44% showed bacterial growth (in 67% of the catheterized patients and 28% of those uncatheterized; 42% of patients were catheterized before TURP). There was no significant difference between any combination of inflammation pattern, volume or grade of inflammation in those catheterized or not (P=0.15) or culture-positive (pathogenic or not) and culture-negative cases (P=0.06). Neither total PSA or PSA density was significantly correlated (P>0.05) with the amount, degree or distribution of inflammation.
Conclusion: Prostatic inflammation is an extremely common histological finding in patients with symptoms of BPH who have no symptoms of prostatitis. There was no correlation between the degree and pattern of inflammation, catheterization, presence of bacteria, serum PSA or PSA density. The clinical significance of asymptomatic Category IV chronic prostatitis associated with BPH has yet to be determined.