Duke illness 'has underlying cause'

Duke illness 'has underlying cause'

The Duke of Edinburgh is likely to have an underlying cause of his bladder infection and there is little he can do personally to ease the condition, an expert said tonight.

Philip was admitted to hospital for the second time in as many months with the illness today.

In June he was admitted after spending several hours standing aboard the Royal Barge during the Queen’s jubilee celebrations and no reason was given for the infection’s cause.

Tonight, Dr Malcolm VandenBurg, a Harley Street specialist in general medicine and male health problems, said there could be numerous causes for the recurrence.

The consultant said there were three more likely causes: an enlargement of the prostate gland, cancer in the prostate or an infection in the actual prostate.

The consultant said: ``If a man gets a bladder infection it is usually associated with something else going wrong.

“With a man of Prince Philip’s age one would immediately think that he had some obstruction to the flow of his urine, something stopping the free flow of his urine from the bladder to the outside world.

“The thing most likely to be in a man of his age is going to be some enlargement of the prostate.”

Dr VandenBurg said with age the bladder loses its tone completely, “it is like a floppy balloon”.

The bladder does not expel all the urine present which increases the chance of an infection.

Philip’s “exceptional medical team” would also be studying if there was something else making the body prone to infection, such as diabetes, the doctor said.

If the Duke’s medical team did not establish the precise cause of his original infection they will now ensure they do, said Dr VandenBurg.

An inherent medical disease could be treated with drugs to reduce the prostate’s size but Philip’s surgeons will be loathe to operate, Dr VandenBurg said.

The consultant stressed elderly patients’ ability to ward off infections is lesser than young people’s.

And he said Philip, whom he described as “stoical”, would not have been helped by standing on the Royal Barge, the Spirit of Chartwell, for so long in June.

Dr Eileen Burns, from the British Geriatrics Society, was asked by the BBC why the Duke's bladder infection may have come back.

She said: “I think there are a number of possible reasons. Bladder infections are quite common anyway so it may just be bad luck.”

Other explanations, Dr Burns said, included that “immune systems in older people are less vigorous” and that “sometimes there can be an abnormality within the urinary tract”. Stones within the bladder were another possible cause of infection, she added.

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