Transurethral Resection of the Prostate

What is T.U.R.P?

Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP) is a surgical procedure to deal with patients with an enlarged, benign (not cancerous) prostate, called Benign Prostate Hyperplasia or BPH. The correct term for the procedure is adenomectomy (removal of a portion of the prostate), but the more common term of prostatectomy is probably what you have heard or seen.

Diagram of Prostate area

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located in front of the rectum, at the outlet of the bladder. It contains gland cells that produce some the seminal fluid, which protects and nourishes sperm cells in semen.

You are being considered for this operation because your prostate has over time accumulated a dense capsule around the urinary channel (called urethra) at the bladder entrance and it is restricting the normal flow of urine out of the bladder.  Most men over age 40 have an enlarging prostate that may eventually cause symptoms.

Normal and Enlarged Prostates

Symptoms can include intermittant flow during urination; frequent urination due to bladder not fully emptying; lack of pressure or flow of urine out of the penis; leakage; and a feeling that you are never really finished urinating.

The actual TURP procedure is basically where the doctor inserts a device up the urethra via the penis opening and scrapes-out the excess capsule material that has been restricting the flow, and then the area is cauterized with another special tool.  The difference between the density of the normal prostate and the restriciting capsule makes it relatively easy for the surgeon to tell exactly how much to remove.  This is considered major surgery, so expect an extended and challenging recovery period.

You can choose to be half awake or totally under via anesthetic during the operation. The surgery usually takes 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

As with all surgery, there are potential complications, and the surgery is not always totally successful. Your doctor can discuss the risks based upon your situation. One common benefit or detriment (based upon your point of view) is that normally after the operation, your ejaculations will not exit your penis, but instead enter your bladder, to be expelled later when you urinate. This is due to the normal occurance during the operation of the sphincter muscle (valve) at the bladder being destroyed alone with the excess prostate material, creating what is called retrograde ejaculation.  However, this should not be considered a fool-proof method of birth control, as some sperm still finds the other path.  Other than that, your sexual capabilites and experience should not be altered by the surgery.  Other than that, your sexual capabilites and experience should not be altered by the surgery, at least for any physical reason.  See the FAQ and Share Pages for more information on this important subject.

This is a very common operation and has been performed successfully on hundreds of thousands of patients since the early 1930's. 

Many men "put up with" the symptoms of BPH for years thinking, "I will do it when I absolutely have to". Yet you may pay a price for that thinking: it has been shown that men that have a bladder that only partially voids, will over time lose its normal state, and instead becomes: enlarged (sometimes double in size), distended, flabby, like an old, over-extended, rubber band. So keep in mind you are risking this by waiting to have something done when you have all the symptoms of BPH.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or treatment of prostate problems. If you suspect prostate problems, contact your health care provider.

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