A transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) is a surgical procedure that involves cutting away a section of the prostate.
The prostate is a small gland in the pelvis only found in men. It's located between the penis and bladder, and surrounds the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis).
If the prostate becomes enlarged, it can place pressure on the bladder and urethra. This can cause symptoms that affect urination.
TURP is often recommended when prostate enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia) causes troublesome symptoms and fails to respond to treatment with medication.
Symptoms that may improve after TURP include:
TURP is carried out using a device called a resectoscope, which is a thin metal tube containing a light, camera and loop of wire. This is passed along your urethra until it reaches your prostate, which means no cuts (incisions) need to be made in your skin.
The loop of wire is then heated with an electric current and used to cut away the section of your prostate causing your symptoms. A thin tube called a catheter is then inserted into your urethra to pump fluid into the bladder and flush away pieces of prostate that have been removed.
General or spinal anaesthesia is used during the procedure so you don't feel any pain while it's carried out.
You'll usually need to stay in hospital for 1 to 3 days after your operation.
The catheter used during the operation will be left in place while you're in hospital because your urethra will be swollen and you may not be able to urinate normally at first.
It's common to feel tired and under the weather for a week or two after going home. Most men are up and about after this time, but you'll need to take things easy for 4 to 8 weeks.
You'll usually be advised to stay off work and avoid lifting heavy objects, doing strenuous exercise, driving and having sex for at least a few weeks.
It's normal to have some difficulties urinating and some blood in your urine for a few weeks. These problems should get better as you recover, but you should contact the hospital clinic or your GP if you're concerned.
In most cases, TURP is a safe procedure and the risk of serious complications is very small.
However, many men who have a TURP lose the ability to ejaculate semen during sex or masturbation, although they still have the physical pleasure associated with ejaculation (orgasm). This is known as retrograde ejaculation.
Many men also temporarily lose the ability to control their bladder (urinary incontinence), although this usually passes in a few weeks. In rare cases, it may be persistent and need further treatment.
There are a number of alternatives to TURP that can be just as effective with a lower risk of complications.
These procedures aren't suitable for all men with prostate enlargement. Your doctor will discuss your options with you.