What Is TURP Surgery? - Definition, Complications & Recovery

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  • 0:03 What Is a TURP?
  • 1:00 Why the Need for a TURP?
  • 1:40 The Procedure
  • 2:55 Complications and Recovery
  • 3:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Virginia Rawls

Virginia has a master' degree in Education and a bachelors in Sports Medicine/athletic Training

A TURP is a surgical procedure performed on the prostate gland. In this lesson, we'll learn about this procedure, the complications associated with it, and the recovery time for the patient.

What Is a TURP?

TURP is an acronym that stands for transurethral resection of the prostate. Yes, this procedure is done on the prostate gland, so it can only be done on male patients. Really understanding the name, ensures you will have a better understanding of the whole procedure.

Let's break down the name…

  • Trans means through
  • Urethra is the portion of anatomy in the urinary tract that connects the bladder to the outside of the body and helps to remove urine
  • Resection is the removal
  • Prostate is the gland in the male reproductive system that produces secretions that help make semen

The prostate gland sits under the bladder and the urethra runs through it. Because of this, many surgeons choose to go through the urethra to gain access to the prostate. I like to think of the prostate gland as one of those small white donuts that you can buy in a pack of six from vending machines. If you put a drinking straw through the hole, this mimics what the prostate and urethra look like.

Why the Need for a TURP?

Male patients might need this procedure for several reasons. Most of the reasons are due to the patient having an enlarged prostate. Having an enlarged prostate leads to symptoms such as difficulty urinating, urinating more frequently, an intense urge to urinate even after already urinating, and dribbling uncontrollably throughout the day.

The prostate could be enlarged due to:

  • Prostate cancer
  • BPH, which stands for benign prostatic hyperplasia. This is a fancy way of saying an enlarged prostate that is non-cancerous.
  • Prostatitis, which is inflammation of the prostate
  • Prostatalgia, which is pain in the prostate gland

The Procedure

The surgery is done at a hospital and under anesthesia. The patient is taken to the operating room and once asleep, the surgeon will use a resectoscope to help gain access to the prostate. The resectoscope is a tiny instrument that goes in through the urinary meatus, the opening urine comes out of, and through the urethra to the level where the prostate is located.

Now, remember my donut analogy? That is going to be helpful for you to picture this part of the surgery. The resectoscope has a tiny cutting instrument that will cut through the urethra and into the prostate. So, we are going to go in through the bottom of the drinking straw, go up to the area where the donut is, cut a hole into the straw, and then we'll be able to see the donut. Make sense?

Once the surgeon can see the prostate (donut) he can begin to remove prostate tissue. He will either remove small tissue samples to help diagnose cancer, or remove large portions of tissue to help relieve BPH.

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