What are the drawbacks of TURP in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)?

Updated: Feb 19, 2021
  • Author: Levi A Deters, MD; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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Although TURP is often successful, it has some drawbacks. When prostatic tissue is cut away, significant bleeding may occur, possibly resulting in termination of the procedure, blood transfusion, and a prolonged hospital stay. Patients are usually monitored overnight and discharged the following morning, with or without a  urinary catheter.

Irrigating fluid may also be absorbed in significant quantities through veins that are cut open, with possible serious sequelae termed transurethral resection (TUR) syndrome. However, this is very rare and does not occur with saline irrigation used in bipolar devices. A urinary catheter must be left in place until the bleeding has mostly cleared.

The large working sheath combined with the use of electrical energy may also result in stricturing of the urethra.

The cutting of the prostate may also result in a partial resection of the urinary sphincteric mechanism, causing the muscle along the bladder outlet to become weak or incompetent. As a result, when the patient ejaculates, this sphincteric mechanism cannot keep the bladder adequately closed. The ejaculate consequently goes backwards into the bladder (ie, retrograde ejaculation), rather than out the penis. Additionally, if the urinary sphincter is damaged, urinary incontinence may result.

The nerves associated with erection run along the outer rim of the prostate, and the high-energy current and/or the heat it generates may damage these nerves, resulting in impotence.

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