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Learning About Transurethral Resection of the Bladder

Cystoscope placement through urethra into bladder

What is transurethral resection of the bladder?

Transurethral resection of the bladder is a surgery that removes abnormal tissue (tumour) from the bladder through the urethra. It is also called transurethral resection of bladder tumour, or TURBT.

A tumour in the bladder may be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). This surgery uses a special tool to find and remove a tumour from the bladder. A small sample (biopsy) of the lining of the bladder may also be taken. Any removed tissue will be checked for cancer cells.

This surgery may be done to look for cancer. It is also the most common and effective treatment for early-stage bladder cancer. It may also work well for more advanced cancer if all the cancer can be removed and biopsies show that no cancer cells remain.

How is transurethral resection of the bladder done?

Your doctor will give you medicine to make you sleep or feel relaxed. You will not feel pain.

The doctor will put a thin, lighted tool called a cystoscope, or scope, into your urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. Then the doctor will gently guide the scope into your bladder. Your bladder will then be filled with fluid. This stretches the bladder so that your doctor can clearly see the inside of your bladder. Your doctor will use small surgical tools through the scope to remove and/or burn away any abnormal tissue that is found.

What can you expect after surgery?

You may go home the same day as your surgery or stay in the hospital for an extra day or so. Your doctor may leave a small tube called a catheter in the urethra to help prevent blockage of the urethra. It's often removed before you go home. If not, you'll get instructions on how to care for the catheter.

You may feel the need to urinate often for a while after the surgery. But this should improve with time. It may burn when you urinate. Drink lots of fluids to help with the burning. Your urine also may look pink for up to 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. This is because there may be blood in it.

You may have to avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting for about 3 weeks after your surgery.

If cancer is found in your bladder, your doctor will talk with you about what will happen next.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

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