What is TURP (transurethral resection of the prostate)?

TURP (transurethral resection of the prostate), or prostatectomy, is the surgical removal of all or part of the prostate. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that makes a component of semen. Your doctor may recommend the TURP procedure to treat an enlarged prostate due to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or prostate cancer.  

TURP is a major surgery with serious risks and potential complications. You may have less invasive treatment options. Consider getting a second opinion about all of your treatment choices before having TURP. 

Why is TURP (transurethral resection of the prostate) performed? 

Your urologist may recommend a TURP to treat an enlarged prostate due to the following conditions:

  • BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia), which is a noncancerous condition in which the prostate enlarges as a man ages. When the prostate gland grows, it presses against the urethra and bladder. This causes difficulty urinating, incontinence, painful urination, and incomplete emptying of the bladder.
  • Prostate cancer, which causes frequent urination, painful urination, painful ejaculation, and other symptoms. Sometimes a urologist may choose TURP to treat symptoms of prostate cancer in older or ill men who cannot tolerate move invasive surgery to remove the prostate.

Your doctor may only consider A TURP for you if other treatment options that involve less risk of complications have been ineffective. Ask your doctor about all of your treatment options and consider getting a second opinion before deciding on a TURP.

Who performs TURP?

A urologist performs a TURP. A urologist is a doctor who specializes in diseases and conditions of the urinary tract and the male reproductive organs. 

How is TURP (transurethral resection of the prostate) performed?

TURP is performed in a hospital or an outpatient surgery clinic. It involves inserting a small tube, called a cystoscope, through your urethra. The urethra is a tube that carries urine from the bladder, past the prostate, and out of the penis. Your urologist then removes part or all of your prostate in pieces using electric current or a laser. 

Types of anesthesia that may be used

Your surgeon performs TURP using either general anesthesia or regional anesthesia. 

  • General anesthesia is a combination of intravenous (IV) medications and gases that put you in a deep sleep. You are unaware of the procedure and will not feel any pain. 
  • Regional anesthesia is also known as a nerve block. It involves injecting an anesthetic around certain nerves to numb a large area of the body. You will likely have sedation with regional anesthesia to keep you relaxed and comfortable.

What to expect the day of your TURP

The day of your surgery, you can generally expect to:

  • Talk with a preoperative nurse. The nurse will perform an exam and ensure that all needed tests are in order. The nurse can also answer questions and will make sure you understand and sign the surgical consent form.
  • Remove all clothing and jewelry and dress in a hospital gown. It is a good idea to leave all jewelry and valuables at home or with a family member. Your care team will give you blankets for modesty and warmth.
  • Talk with the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist about your medical history and the type of anesthesia you will receive.
  • A surgical team member will start an IV. 
  • The anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will start your anesthesia.
  • A tube may be placed in your windpipe to protect and control breathing during general anesthesia. You will not feel or remember this or the surgery as they happen.
  • The surgical team will monitor your vital signs and other critical body functions. This occurs throughout the procedure and your recovery until you are alert, breathing effectively, and your vital signs are stable.

What are the risks and potential complications of a TURP (transurethral resection of the prostate)?  

As with all surgeries, a TURP involves risks and possible complications. Most TURP procedures are successful, but complications may become serious and life threatening in some cases. Complications can develop during surgery or recovery.