Transurethral Resection of Prostate (TURP)

What is a TURP?

Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) is a surgical procedure to treat moderate to severe symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is also known as the enlargement of the prostate.

How it works

During TURP, the surgeon inserts a resectoscope (a visual and surgical instrument) into the urethra. The resectoscope allows your surgeon to see and scrape away excess prostate tissue that is blocking urine flow. After the procedure, your urine flow from the bladder will return to normal.

Bipolar TURP vs laser prostatectomy

TURP and laser prostatectomy are similar procedures for treating BPH. The two differ in that laser prostatectomy:

  • Does not yield any tissue samples for further examination
  • Does not require the stoppage of blood thinners.

Why do you need a TURP?

TURP is an effective surgical procedure that reduces urinary symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate, such as:

  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Feeling of incomplete urination
  • Slow or long duration of urination
  • Difficulty when trying to start urination
  • Disrupted flow while urinating
  • Increased urination at night

Your doctor may recommend TURP if your urinary symptoms are moderate to severe and medications fail to ease your symptoms.

TURP can also treat complications due to an inability to completely empty your bladder, such as:

  • Bladder stones
  • Incontinence (inability to control urination)
  • Kidney failure resulting from loss of normal kidney function
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Recurring blood in the urine

What are the risks and complications of a TURP?

Undergoing a TURP may put you at risk of:

  • Difficulty in urination, which may last for a few days after the procedure. In the meantime, your doctor will insert a tube (catheter) into your penis for urine to drain out.
  • Heavy bleeding, which may occur in rare circumstances, especially for men with a larger prostate.
  • Incontinence (difficulty holding urine), though this is a rare complication.
  • Low sodium in your blood, which can occur if the body absorbs too much of the fluid used for washing during the TURP surgery. This condition can be life-threatening if untreated.
  • Sexual dysfunction, including erectile dysfunction or retrograde ejaculation. Retrograde ejaculation (dry orgasm) refers to semen ejecting into your bladder instead of out from your penis.
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI), which is a risk that increases the longer you have a catheter in place.

Some patients may need further treatment if:

  • Symptoms return post-treatment
  • TURP causes the urethra or bladder neck to narrow
  • TURP does not improve symptoms.
This page has been reviewed by our medical content reviewers.

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