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Transurethral Resection of Bladder Tumor

This procedure may be called a transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT) or transurethral resection (TUR). Tiny pieces of tissue, called samples, are taken from inside your bladder. This is called a bladder biopsy. The samples are then tested in a lab.

This procedure is done to help find out if a person has bladder cancer. If the tumors are very small and haven't spread deep into the bladder wall, TURBT may be part of treatment.

Front view cross section of bladder showing cystoscope inserted through urethra to bladder.

Getting ready for the procedure

Follow the directions you were given to get ready for the procedure. Also:

  • Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines you take. This includes any over-the-counter medicines, herbs, vitamins, and other supplements. You may need to stop taking some or all of your medicines before TURBT.

  • Follow any directions you are given for not eating or drinking before the procedure. (If you've been told to take medicines, take them with a small sip of water.)

The day of the procedure

The procedure takes about 30 to 45 minutes. You’ll likely go home the same day.

Before the procedure begins

What to expect before the procedure:

  • A small tube called an IV (intravenous) line is put into a vein in your arm or hand. Fluids and medicines (such as antibiotics) might be given to you through your IV.

  • To keep you from feeling pain during the procedure, you'll be given medicine called anesthesia. You may be given general anesthesia. This puts you into a deep sleep. If you get general anesthesia, you'll need to have a breathing tube put in and will be on a breathing machine. Another option is spinal anesthesia. This numbs your body only from the waist down.

During the procedure

What to expect during the procedure:

  • A special tool called a cystoscope (scope) is used. This is a thin, lighted tube with a tiny lens on the end. It's used to see inside the bladder. The scope goes it into your bladder through your urethra. The urethra is a thin tube in your body that urine passes through. It connects the bladder to the outside of your body.

  • Water is put in through the scope to fill the bladder. This stretches the bladder to give your healthcare provider a better view of the inside lining.

  • A long, thin surgical tool is passed through the scope into the bladder. It's used to take out small samples of tissue from the bladder lining and the layers right under it. An electric tool or laser may be used to take out tissue and stop any bleeding.

  • When the procedure is over, the scope is removed and the bladder is drained.

  • A soft, thin tube (called a Foley catheter) may be put in your bladder to drain urine while the bladder heals.

After the procedure

You’ll be taken to a room to rest until the anesthesia wears off. If a breathing tube was used, your throat might be sore at first. You might be given medicines to control pain and help prevent infection.

The Foley catheter in your bladder will be attached to a bag to collect your urine. You might go home with this catheter. If so, you'll be taught how to take care of it and empty the bag.

After a few hours, you’ll be able to go home. Have an adult family member or friend ready to drive you.

Recovering at home

Once you’re home, be as active as you comfortably can. Get up and walk around, but avoid exercise or heavy activities until you feel better. You can likely return to your normal routine in 1 to 2 days. If you go home with a catheter, care for it as directed. Also be sure to follow any special instructions your healthcare provider gave you.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Chest pain or trouble breathing (call 911)

  • A fever of 100.4° F ( 38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Pain that’s not controlled with medicine

  • Trouble urinating or being unable to urinate

  • Bloody urine for more than 48 hours

Follow-up

You’ll have a follow-up visit with your healthcare provider in about 7 days. During this visit, your healthcare provider will talk with you about the results of your biopsy. You and your healthcare provider will also discuss any treatments that might be needed.

Risks and possible complications

Risks of this procedure include:

  • Pain or burning when urinating for a few days after the procedure (this is normal)

  • Blood in the urine

  • Infection

  • Damage to the bladder wall (may need a short-term catheter or more surgery to repair)

  • Narrowing of the urethra

  • Risks of anesthesia. You will discuss these with the anesthesiologist before the procedure.

Talk with your healthcare provider about what you can expect this procedure to be like. Be sure you understand what problems you should watch for and know how to get help anytime you have problems, including after office hours and on weekends.

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.