What Is Transurethral Resection of the Prostate?

If you’re a man over age 50, you have a 50% or greater chance of having an enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH isn’t usually serious and doesn’t lead to prostate cancer.

The prostate is a small gland located just below your bladder and surrounding your urethra, the tube that carries pee from your bladder to outside your body. When it gets enlarged, it presses against the urethra and can cause urinary problems.

Even though BPH is common, not all men with BPH have symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they tend to get worse over time and can affect your quality of life. Symptoms include:

  • A weak urine stream that stops and starts
  • Need to pee a lot, especially at night
  • Leaking or dribbling
  • Need to pee right away
  • Feeling like your bladder isn’t completely empty

Your doctor may have prescribed medicine or suggested lifestyle changes as your first line of treatment. If those approaches didn’t work well enough, your doctor may refer you to a surgeon for a minimally invasive procedure using heat or lasers to get rid of excess prostate tissue, or for a surgery called transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) to improve your symptoms. With TURP, the surgeon removes the inner part of the prostate gland, where BPH develops. No incision or stitches are needed, and you can usually go home after 1 or 2 days in the hospital. TURP is one of the most common types of prostate surgery.

What to Expect

Getting ready. If you smoke, you should stop several weeks before surgery. Your doctor can help you with tips on how to quit. Within days or weeks before the procedure, your doctor may ask you to stop taking any medicines that increase your risk of bleeding (blood thinners or certain pain relievers). You may also be prescribed an antibiotic to help prevent a urinary tract infection. Be sure to ask your doctor which medicine you should still take on the day of your surgery.

Having the surgery. First, you’ll be given general anesthesia (you’ll be asleep during the procedure) or spinal anesthesia (a spinal block; you’ll be awake). Either way, you won’t feel any pain or discomfort during the surgery. The surgeon will insert a scope (tiny tube) through your urethra and into the prostate area, where he will trim excess tissue from your prostate a little bit at a time. The surgery typically takes about an hour.

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Recovering. You’ll usually have to stay in bed until the next morning, and then move around as much as you can afterwards to help your body heal. You can eat a normal diet right away. Plan on staying in the hospital for 1 to 2 days.

You’ll have some swelling where the surgery was done, so a catheter (small tube) will be in place to help you pee. The catheter is typically left in place for 1 or 2 days until the swelling goes down and you can urinate on your own. You may notice that you have fewer symptoms right away and your flow is stronger. You may also see some blood in your urine, which is normal after surgery. Let your doctor know if your urine does not start to clear or if the bleeding seems to be getting worse.

Getting back to normal. You may feel a little pain or urgency to urinate for a week or so after you get home, but that will gradually go away. It typically takes about 2 weeks to heal completely. To recover as fast as possible with few complications:

  • Avoid driving, sudden movements, lifting, operating heavy equipment, or straining when you go to the bathroom
  • Drink eight glasses of water a day to flush your bladder
  • Make sure to eat foods with fiber like fruits and vegetables to avoid constipation
  • Do pelvic exercises that help control incontinence. Ask your doctor for information.
  • Don’t have sex until your doctor says it’s safe

TURP is considered safe, and most men get better after they have the procedure. But complications are possible. Contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Inability to pee
  • Blood in your urine (a little at first is normal; heavy bleeding isn’t)
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Inability to maintain an erection
  • Incontinence
  • Fever
  • Pain or redness in your calf, leg, or thigh, which could mean a blood clot
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on May 08, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: “Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH): Treatments and drugs,” “Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP).”

Medline Plus: “Transurethral resection of the prostate.”

University of Maryland Medical Center: “Benign prostatic hyperplasia.”

Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School: “4 tips for coping with an enlarged prostate.”

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “What is benign prostatic hyperplasia?”

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