A transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) is a surgical procedure which involves cutting away part of the prostate gland to treat the symptoms of an enlarged prostate. The procedure usually lasts for about an hour and is performed using either a general anaesthetic or an epidural.
The procedure involves a thin tube-like telescope called a resectoscope being inserted into the tip of the penis, passing through the urethra towards the prostate. An attachment at the end of the resectoscope is heated up using an electrical current and then used to cut away a section of the prostate. No dressings or stiches are needed after the operation.
TURP patients usually stay in hospital up to five days following the procedure, and will normally be able to resume most normal activities within one week. However, for patients who have a job which is physically strenuous it may take up to six weeks to return to work.
TURP is a commonly performed and generally considered a safe operation. However, all surgery carries risks as well as benefits. Most men find that a lasting side-effect of a TURP is dry orgasm, which happens because semen can travel back up into the bladder rather than out through the penis. This should not interfere with sex and after recovery from the operation, most men return to the same level of sexual activity as before the treatment. However, this may affect the ability to father children through sexual intercourse.
Rarely it’s possible to have some long-term urinary incontinence or problems emptying your bladder, even after the initial recovery period. The chance of complications depends on the exact type of operation you are having and other factors, such as the patients general health. The consultant will discuss the risks and benefits of the operation in detail with the patient.