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Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP)

TURP is a type of surgery used to treat a benign enlargement of the prostate, also known as BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia). This surgical treatment removes prostate tissue to relieve pressure on the urethra. This helps relieve symptoms of urinary obstruction, frequency, or decreased urinary stream. TURP is the most common procedure for the treatment of BPH. But certain other procedures also help relieve BPH symptoms. Your doctor may do 1 of these instead of TURP. They include TUIP, TUNA, or laser ablation. If you will have 1 of these procedures, your doctor can tell you more about it. Your preparation and experience during surgery will be similar to TURP. 

Illustration of a transurethral resection of the prostate

Preparing for Surgery

Your doctor will tell you how to prepare for your procedure. For instance, you may be asked to stop taking certain medications a few days before the procedure. You may be asked not to eat or drink anything after the midnight before surgery. Be sure to follow any special instructions you’re given.

During the TURP Procedure

  • You will be given pain medication (anesthesia) to keep you from feeling pain during the procedure. It may be given into your spine (epidural). This is not meant to put you to sleep, but it will numb the area where the surgery is being done. In some cases, general anesthesia is used. This is to keep you sleeping throughout the surgery. The anesthesia doctor or nurse (anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist) will talk to you about the pain medication that is best for you.

  • The doctor inserts a cystoscope (a thin, telescope-like device) into your urethra. This device lets your doctor see the blocked part of the urethra.

  • A cutting device is inserted through the cystoscope. This is used to remove the excess prostate tissue. The cut pieces of tissue collect in the bladder. These pieces are continuously washed away with fluids during the procedure. 

  • The tissue pieces are sent to the lab to be sure they are free of cancer. 

Possible Risks and Complications of Prostate Procedures

  • Bleeding

  • Infection

  • Scarring of the urethra

  • Retrograde ejaculation

  • Erectile dysfunction (rare)

  • Absorption of fluid during the procedure (TURP syndrome)

  • Permanent incontinence (very rare)

Retrograde Ejaculation

After some surgical treatments, semen may travel into the bladder instead of out of the penis during ejaculation. This side effect is called retrograde ejaculation. As a result, there may be little or no semen when you ejaculate. This is harmless, and the feeling of orgasm won’t change. Retrograde ejaculation can also be a side effect of certain medications.