Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) is a surgical procedure that is done to reduce the size of the prostate in men. The prostate is part of the male reproductive system and is located just below the bladder. A normal healthy prostate is the size of a walnut and is made up of two lobes. As men age, if the prostate becomes enlarged, the patient may develop a non-cancerous condition known as benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). An enlarged prostate can put pressure on the urethra, the canal that carries urine out of the bladder.
After the urethra leaves the bladder, it passes through the middle of the two lobes of the prostate. An enlarged prostate could put pressure on both sides of the urethra making it difficult for the patient to urinate. A patient with any changes in patterns of urination or symptoms of an enlarged prostate may qualify for the TURP procedure. This procedure is not the first choice of treatment for prostate cancer but it can be used to relieve any difficulties in urination in patients with cancer.
During the TURP procedure, the patient is under general anesthesia. The surgeon inserts a rod-shaped instrument known as a resectoscope into the urethra. A resectoscope is similar to a very small telescope and has a lens to visualize the tissue of the bladder and urethra. It also has a loop that is used to resect or cut away extra prostate tissue and enlarge the urethral opening. An electrical current passes through the loop on the resectoscope to allow the surgeon to scrape away the prostate tissue.
Water flows through the resectoscope into the bladder during the TURP procedure, and this water serves to flush away the excess prostate tissue that has been scraped off. This tissue is flushed out through an external port on the resectoscope. The tissue lining the urethra is then cauterized or burned to stop any bleeding.
The patient will likely spend one to two nights in the hospital. A catheter will be in place and it is not unusual to see blood in the catheter shortly after surgery. Urine should return to a normal color before the catheter is removed.
Even though there is no surgical incision during the TURP procedure, the patient will need a few days to a week to recover. During recovery, there should be no strenuous activity or heavy lifting. Since the urethral opening is made larger during this surgery, any symptoms or difficulties in urination should be significantly reduced after the surgery.