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Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP)

This page was reviewed under our medical and editorial policy by

Maurie Markman, MD, President, Medicine & Science at CTCA.

This page was updated on June 21, 2022.

A transurethral resection of the prostate, or TURP, is a surgical procedure used to help men with an enlarged prostate. It’s most commonly used for men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate. Because part of the urethra is surrounded by the prostate, an enlarged prostate puts pressure on the urethra and may make it difficult to urinate normally.

It may also be used for advanced prostate cancer patients to relieve uncomfortable symptoms, such as urinary problems, and improve quality of life.

What to expect from the TURP procedure

A transurethral resection of the prostate removes the inner section of the prostate gland to relieve the pressure on the urethra. It’s performed under general anesthesia, which puts the patient to sleep, or spinal anesthesia, which numbs the lower part of the body.

During the TURP procedure, the doctor uses a resectoscope, which is a thin, flexible tube that’s inserted through the tip of the penis and into the urethra. This method requires no incision or need for stitches. The resectoscope uses either electricity or a laser to remove part of the prostate, which cuts or vaporizes the tissue.

The procedure takes about an hour. Before the surgery is completed, a thin, small tube called a catheter will be inserted into the urethra and bladder to help with urination during the recovery process.

A TURP is generally not an outpatient procedure. Patients may stay one to two days in the hospital so recovery can be monitored.

Possible complications and problems after TURP

While TURP is a safe procedure, any surgery may cause side effects. Possible TURP complications include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Injury to the bladder
  • Loss of erections
  • Abnormalities in electrolyte levels
  • Urinary changes, including pain or difficulty when urinating
  • Retrograde ejaculation (ejaculate seeping into the bladder)

The care team will discuss potential TURP side effects in advance in order to determine whether the procedure is appropriate.

Recovery and life after TURP

Recovery from TURP surgery is carefully managed in both the hospital and at home. Immediately after surgery, pain medication may be administered and eating and drinking may resume. Patients may notice blood in their urine, but this is expected and will normally subside over time. Thorough at-home care instructions will be provided.

Life after a TURP surgery usually returns to normal, but the patient will need to rest and avoid strenuous activities for about one to two weeks after the procedure. Waiting about four to six weeks before resuming sexual relations may be advised.

Other instructions may include drinking plenty of fluids to help flush blood out of the urine and avoiding any alcohol and caffeine consumption until advised it’s safe to resume.

If patients notice any changes once they’re home, including fever, chills, urination problems or changes to urine color, they should call their care team right away.

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