Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Prostate Enlargement/BPH Health Center

Font Size

Open Prostatectomy for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

Open prostatectomy is the surgical removal of the prostate gland camera.gif. It is done under a general or spinal anesthetic. Usually, an incision is made through the lower abdomen, although sometimes the incision is made between the rectum and the base of the penis. A catheter may be placed in the bladder through the lower abdominal skin to help flush the bladder (postoperative bladder irrigation) and another catheter comes out of the penis to drain the urine. The procedure requires a slightly longer hospital stay and recovery period than transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP).

Open prostatectomy is not done very often for benign enlargement of the prostate. It may be recommended if:

  • You have a very large prostate.
  • You have bladder diverticula (pouches in the wall of the bladder) or bladder stones.
  • TURP is not possible for another reason.

A prostatectomy also reduces the chances that another surgery will be needed, which is a potential problem when TURP is used.

If you have been treated for prostate cancer, an open prostatectomy cannot be done.

What To Expect After Surgery

Open prostatectomy requires several days in the hospital. A catheter is left in place for 3 to 5 days. You may go home with a urinary catheter in place. Your doctor will give you instructions about how to care for your catheter at home.

Why It Is Done

Open prostatectomy usually is used for men who want surgery to treat their benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) symptoms and who have very enlarged prostates.

How Well It Works

Open prostatectomy almost always improves symptoms.1


The risks of open prostatectomy include:

  • The possible need for a blood transfusion. Slightly more men require a blood transfusion after open prostatectomy than after TURP.
  • An inability to have sexual intercourse because of erection problems. This occurs in less than 5 out of 100 men and is more frequent in older men than in younger men.2
  • A strong urge to urinate (overactive bladder), which can also cause leaking of urine (urge incontinence). This usually gets better within weeks or months.
  • Complete or partial inability to hold back urine (incontinence).
  • Ejaculation of semen into the bladder instead of out through the penis (retrograde ejaculation). This happens in 80 to 90 out of 100 men who have open prostatectomy. Although this is not harmful, it may cause fertility problems.

What To Think About

Surgery usually is not needed to treat BPH, but some men may choose it. Choosing surgery depends largely on your preferences and comfort with the idea of having surgery. Things to think about include your expectation of the results, the severity of your symptoms, and the possibility of having complications.

Men who have severe symptoms before surgery often have great improvement in their quality of life following surgery. Men whose symptoms are mild may find that surgery does not greatly improve their quality of life. They may want to think carefully before deciding to have surgery to treat BPH.

Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.


  1. AUA Practice Guidelines Committee (2010). AUA guideline on management of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Chapter 3: Results of the treatment outcomes analyses. Available online:

  2. Han M, Partin AW (2012). Retropubic and suprapubic open prostatectomy. In AJ Wein et al., eds., Campbell-Walsh Urology, 10th ed., vol. 3, pp. 2695-2703. Philadelphia: Saunders.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerJ. Curtis Nickel, MD, FRCSC - Urology

Current as ofNovember 14, 2014

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Today on WebMD

Male Incontinence Slideshow
screening tests for men
What Is The Prostate
Foods To Boost Mens Heath
Enlarged Prostate BPH Complex Problem
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia BPH Surgery
How Bad Are Urinary Symptoms From Benign Prostatic
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia BPH Exams And Tests
Treating Enlarged Prostate
What Is The Prostate
Marks Prostate Enlarged
Low Testosterone Explained When Levels Are Too Low

WebMD Special Sections