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Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP)

This information explains your transurethral resection of the prostate surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK).

Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) is a surgical procedure. It is used to treat enlargement of the prostate gland (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH) when medication does not work. In BPH, the prostate is pressing down on the urethra. This makes urination difficult. During the TURP procedure your surgeon will trim part of the prostate tissue away. This will make it easier to urinate.

Before the Surgery

  • You will be scheduled for a presurgical testing appointment (PST) before your surgery. During this appointment you will meet with a nurse practitioner and discuss anesthesia. This is the medicine used to put you to sleep during the surgery. You will also have tests done such as:
    • An electrocardiogram (EKG)
    • A chest X-ray
    • Blood tests
    • Other tests that your doctor may decide are necessary
  • You may also be asked to have a medical clearance visit. This visit will help your surgeon plan your care to lower any risks you might have with surgery. Your nurse will give you the booklet Getting Ready for Surgery. This booklet tells you what you need to do to prepare for your surgery. Your nurses may also give you other booklets, self-care cards and any instructions you may need. Please read them carefully.
  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery.

The Day of Surgery

  • You will be admitted to the Pre-Surgical Center (PSC). From there you will be taken to the operating room. The whole process takes 3 to 4 hours.
  • You will be unconscious during the procedure, which takes about 15 to 30 minutes. You will be in the operating room longer than that while the staff prepares you for the surgery.
  • Your feet will be placed in stirrups. The surgery is done through a scope in the urethra.
  • A nurse will let your family members know how the surgery is progressing.

After Surgery

  • After the surgery you will be in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). You can have ice chips and water as soon as you are fully awake. Family members may visit you in the PACU.
  • You will be taken to your hospital room when the doctors and nurses believe you are awake enough from the anesthesia. You will be in the hospital overnight.
  • If you experience any pain or discomfort, your nurse will give you acetaminophen (Tylenol®).
  • You will have a catheter in overnight. This is a thin tube that will drain urine from the bladder into a bag. Fluid may be used to continuously flush your bladder through this catheter to limit the risk of blood clots forming. This catheter will be removed before you go home.

Recovering at Home

  • You might see tiny particles floating in your urine. This is normal. These are pieces of prostate tissue and tiny blood clots. This gets better by drinking more fluids.
  • You may need to urinate more frequently or more urgently. This is often temporary.
  • Depending on your bladder function before having the procedure, you might be incontinent (not able to control your urination.) This is usually temporary. If you are still incontinent a few weeks after your surgery, testing can be done to determine if we can correct this.
  • You may feel discomfort or pain. Drinking liquids will help, and you may also take acetaminophen.
  • Your will be given an antibiotic. Take all of the pills as prescribed.
  • Once your urine is clear yellow you may resume your normal activities. This usually takes 1 to 2 days.
  • A dry orgasm (retrograde ejaculation) is very common. You will have normal sensation of orgasms, but there will be much less ejaculate (semen). This is not dangerous. The ejaculate goes into the bladder and will come out with the urine the next time you urinate.

Call your doctor or nurse if you:

  • Have a temperature of 101° F (38.3° C) or higher.
  • Have pain that is not relieved by pain medication.
  • Cannot urinate.
  • Have any unexpected problems.
  • Have any questions or concerns.

Call to make an appointment to see the doctor within two or three months after your surgery.