Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP)

What is it?

  • Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) reduces the size of the prostate gland by removing prostate tissue through the urethra.
  • Usually, medications are used first to improve the urine flow.  Your doctor may prescribe one or more of the following oral medications:
    1. Those which relax the muscles of the “neck of the bladder” and prostate, thus widening the urine passage-way;
    2. Those which shrink the prostate; and
    3. A combination of the two.
  • If medications are not effective, your Urologist may recommend a surgical procedure known as a TURP.
  • TURP is a common treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or enlargement of the prostate, which occurs naturally as men age.
  • The enlarged prostate can compress the urethra narrowing the urinary channel, thus causing problems with urine flow.
If a cancerous prostate gland causes significant blockage to the urine flow, your doctor might recommend that you have a TURP.  This procedure will not cure prostate cancer but it will help to enlarge the urinary passage by “coring out” or “reaming out” the middle portion of the prostate (instead of getting rid of the entire prostate). You should experience an improvement to the flow of urine. Your doctor may recommend this procedure along with other treatments.

What does a TURP involve?

  • This procedure is performed in a hospital with general or spinal anesthesia.
  • The surgeon inserts a resectoscope, a thin tube with a camera and a light, into the urethra to view both the urethra and the bladder (there are no skin incisions). The surgeon removes excess prostate tissue in small pieces, which are flushed from the bladder.
  • After the procedure, a catheter is inserted into the bladder to drain urine, and it is removed when there is no longer urine in the blood (which may take a couple of days).
  • On average, men who undergo TURP stay in the hospital one to two days.


  • A TURP has a small risk of infection, which is treated with antibiotics.
  • Bleeding that requires additional surgery or a transfusion is rare.
  • A TURP should not affect your ability to have an erection. The volume of semen will likely be reduced; this is due to “retrograde ejaculation”, or backward flow of the semen into the bladder. (The ejaculate will be cleared away with urination.)
  • Men who still experience urinary problems after a TURP may need another operation or medication.
  • Over time, scarring or prostate tissue regrowth may require a second TURP. 

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