What Happens During Transurethral Resection (TUR)

This type of surgery is usually done for early-stage, superficial bladder cancers. So you may have this surgery if you have stage 0 or stage I bladder cancer. This means that the cancer hasn't spread much deeper than the bladder's lining.

You are admitted to the hospital for this surgery. After you get to the operating room, you'll be given anesthesia to prevent pain. You may get a local anesthesia, which keeps you from feeling what is going on while you are still awake. Or you may have a general anesthesia, which puts you to sleep and keeps you from feeling pain. You won't need to have any cuts, or incisions.

The surgeon examines the inside of the bladder with a special tool called a cystoscope. The doctor inserts this thin, lighted tube through your urethra up into your bladder. Using the cystoscope, your surgeon views the inside of your bladder, usually on a television monitor. If your doctor sees bladder cancer — or cancers, if there are more than one — he or she uses a special tiny attachment at the end of the cystoscope to either cut or burn the cancer(s) off. The whole procedure usually takes 20 to 30 minutes.

What to expect after TUR

You may be able to go home the same day, or you may stay in the hospital 1 to 2 days after transurethral resection. A tube called a catheter is usually left in the urethra after the procedure. The tube prevents blockage of the urethra. It also helps stop bleeding. Your doctor will remove the catheter when the bleeding stops.

You may feel the need to urinate more often when the tube is removed. You may feel a little pain when you urinate. There may also be a little bit of bleeding. These problems are normal and usually go away after a day or 2. Call your doctor if there's a lot of pain or bleeding, or if the pain or bleeding doesn't get better within a day or 2.

There's a good chance that you won't have any cancer left after transurethral resection. But you'll still need to see your doctor every 3 to 6 months. Superficial bladder cancer commonly comes back. Your doctor will want to perform regular cystoscopic exams, usually every few months, to make sure the cancer doesn't come back or to find it early if it does come back.