A transurethral resection of a bladder tumour (TURBT) is a treatment for bladder tumours. The tumour or tumours are cut away from your bladder wall, removed and then sent to the laboratory for examination. Your consultant will then be able to find out whether the tumour cells are cancerous and, if so, the grade and stage that the cancer has reached. The result will then be used to plan any future treatment needed.


Why do I need this procedure?

Benign bladder tumours usually grow very slowly. If they are not treated they can become very large and cause problems for your by taking up too much space in your bladder or pressing on other organs in your body.

Malignant tumours continue to grow unless they are removed. They can invade surrounding tissue and spread throughout your body causing further problems.

What happens during the procedure?

When you are anaesthetised your surgeon will place a slim fibre-optic telescope (cystoscope or resectoscope) up into your bladder through your urethra. This is a special tube that allows your surgeon to see your bladder lining. The visible tumour(s) will be cut away from the lining of your bladder wall using surgical instruments inserted down the side-channels of the resectoscope. This can sometimes cause bleeding. Once your consultant surgeon has removed a tumour, the bleeding is prevented or reduced using a mild electric current to cauterise (burn) the area the tumour was removed from.

If there is a lot of bleeding, you may have a fine tube (catheter) inserted into your bladder to allow your bladder to empty and to remove any debris. Occasionally, the catheter needs to be kept in for several days if the bleeding continues. It will be removed when your urine becomes rosé coloured or clear, before you leave the hospital.

Depending on your individual circumstances and the size of your tumour(s), the procedure may take between 15 minutes and an hour. The tumour(s) will be sent to the laboratory for examination. Once the procedure is over you will be taken into the recovery area to allow the anaesthetic to wear off. You will then be taken back to your room and when you are fully awake the nursing team will encourage you to drink plenty of water.

Are there any risks?

Although serious complications are rare, every surgical procedure has risks. Your consultant surgeon will discuss the specific risks for this procedure with you in more detail before you sign any consent forms.

The risks of having a TURBT include:

  • Blood in the urine – this is common (in more than one in 10 people) and you may also experience a mild burning sensation when passing urine for couple of days after your procedure. You should drink plenty of water and stay hydrated to flush out your system.
  • Infection – this happens occasionally (in between one in 10 and one in 50 people). You will be given antibiotics to treat an infection if this occurs.
  • Perforation of the bladder – this is rare (in less than one in 50 people) and will require a temporary urinary catheter or open surgical repair.
  • Difficulty in passing urine directly after the procedure – this is rare as most patients have a catheter for the first 24 hours following the procedure.

Your results

Your results should be available within a week of your procedure. We will schedule a follow-up appointment in the clinic, where your surgeon will review the results with you and discuss your future care.

Please make sure that you have been given a follow-up appointment before you leave the hospital.

The results from your TURBT will determine your future follow-up. Your surgeon will discuss this with you when you come for your follow-up appointment.