TURP surgery

If the cancer is blocking the urethra (the tube that drains urine from the bladder) it can be difficult to pass urine. A transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) removes the part of the prostate gland that’s causing the blockage. 

A surgeon passes a small tube with a cutting instrument and a tiny camera through the urethra into the prostate. They shave off part of the prostate gland to remove the blockage. The procedure is done under general anaesthetic or with a local anaesthetic.

After the operation, you will have a catheter to drain urine into a bag. This is usually taken out before you go home. If not, a nurse will show you how to look after your catheter at home. You may have some pain after the operation but can be given painkillers to help. You usually stay in hospital for three to four days.

Your doctor or specialist nurse can tell you about other side effects of this operation.

Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP)

A TURP is carried out if cancer is blocking the urethra (the tube that drains urine from the bladder) and needs to be removed. It helps relieve problems with passing urine.

During the procedure, a tube that contains a cutting instrument and a tiny camera is passed through the urethra and into the prostate. The cutting instrument is used to shave off the inner area of the prostate to remove the blockage.

This can be done under a general anaesthetic while you’re asleep or you may have a local anaesthetic with an epidural. If you have an epidural, the lower body is temporarily numbed with an injection of anaesthetic into the spine. Even though you are awake, you won’t feel anything.

A TURP can also be carried out using a special laser. This is only done in some specialist centres. Your doctor will advise you if this is suitable for you and where the treatment is available.

Advantages and disadvantages

Advantages of a TURP

  • It can help to relieve problems with passing urine.

Disadvantages of a TURP

  • There is a small risk of urinary incontinence and some men have problems getting an erection after a TURP.

After your TURP

You will be encouraged to get out of bed and will probably be able to walk around the morning after your operation.

You will usually have a drip that gives fluid into your vein. This will be taken out as soon as you’re drinking normally.

You’ll also have a tube (catheter) to drain fluid from your bladder into a collecting bag. It’s normal at this stage for your urine to contain blood. To stop blood clots blocking the catheter, bladder irrigation may be used. This is when fluid is passed into the bladder and drained out through the catheter. The blood will gradually clear from your urine and the catheter can then be taken out. At first, you may find it difficult to pass urine without the catheter, but this should improve. Some men find that they have some urinary incontinence following this procedure, but this usually improves within a few weeks.

Most men are able to go home after three or four days. Occasionally, you may need to keep the catheter in for a while after you go home due to swelling caused by the surgery. The nurse will show you how to look after your catheter before you leave the hospital. They can also organise for a district nurse to visit you at home to help with any problems.

If you go home with a catheter you may experience some bladder spasms due to your catheter irritating your bladder. The spasms may cause your urine to bypass your catheter so that you leak urine. These spasms are normal and not dangerous to you, but if they last a long time and are frequent, tell your doctor or nurse.

You may have pain and discomfort for a few days after your operation. You will be given painkillers, which are usually very effective. If you continue to feel pain, let your doctor or nurse know so that a more effective painkiller can be found.

Following a TURP it’s common for men to experience retrograde ejaculation. This means that during ejaculation semen goes backward into the bladder instead of through the urethra in the normal way. Your urine may look cloudy after sex because there is semen in the bladder, but this is harmless.

Occasionally, TURP can cause some long-term difficulties with passing urine. Some men may also find that they have problems getting an erection after having a TURP.

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