What is TURP?
TURP is an acronym for Transurethral Resection of the Prostate. It is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that removes prostatic tissue that bulges into the urethra and blocks urinary flow. The idea is to remove all of the overgrown tissue without removing the prostate gland itself. Sometimes called the roto-rooter surgery, TURP is performed to relieve the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH, commonly referred to as enlargement of the prostate.
TURP is one of the most frequently performed surgeries nationwide. It is highly effective and can restore the urinary tract to the way it functioned as a teenager. The procedure is performed under any of three types of anesthesia: general, epidural or spinal.
A small electric loop, called a resectoscope, is administered by a urologist into the urethra through the penis. The instrument measures about 12 inches long and has a 1/2-inch diameter. It is used to chip away at the overgrowth tissue that blocks the urinary channel one piece at a time. Valves control irrigating fluid, which flushes the pieces into the bladder and out again. After the tissue has been successfully removed, electrical current cauterizes the wound. The procedure should take no more than 90 minutes but requires a hospital stay of one to three days.
Bleeding may be an immediate complication that requires transfusion in about 4 percent of cases. In addition, acute urinary retention can occur in 6 to 7 percent of patients, and two percent of patients suffer from infections.
Males who have prostates larger than 60 grams and require a longer operation with more fluids to flush out the overgrowth tissue are at risk for the rare TURP syndrome. Serious but treatable, the syndrome can cause mental confusion and visual and digestive problems, as well as cardiac issues.
According to Peter T. Scardino, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Urology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, erectile dysfunction is a side effect in 13 percent of patients undergoing the TURP procedure. Additionally, about 5 percent suffer a urinary stricture that constricts urine flow, and 1 percent experience incontinence. Another 50 percent of men develop retrograde ejaculation, where semen is expelled into the bladder instead of out of the penis, resulting in infertility.