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Transurethral Resection (TUR)

When bladder cancer is in an early stage and growing slowly, it can often be removed using cystoscopy. This procedure, known as a transurethral resection, is often one of the first steps in bladder cancer treatment and can help manage low grade bladder tumors.

Transurethral resection (TUR) of the bladder is a surgical procedure that is used to diagnose, stage and treat bladder cancer. This procedure is also called a TURBT (transurethral resection for bladder tumor). During TUR surgery, a cystoscope is passed into the bladder through the urethra. A tool called a resectoscope is used to remove the cancer for biopsy and to burn away any remaining cancer cells.

TUR can be used to diagnose, stage, and treat bladder cancer:

  • Diagnosis: TUR is used to examine the inside of the bladder to see whether there are cancer cells in the bladder.
  • Staging: TUR can determine whether cancers are growing into the bladder wall.
  • Treatment: Small tumors can be removed from inside the bladder during TUR.

A transurethral resection is typically performed in the hospital as an outpatient procedure.  You will be sedated with either general anesthesia or regional anesthesia that numbs the lower half of your body.

During the procedure, a cystoscope containing a camera and a cutting tool is gently inserted into your bladder through your urethra. As your doctor examines your bladder, cancerous tissue will be removed wherever possible.

To ensure that as many cancer cells are removed as possible, a laser may be used to burn away residual cancerous tissue.

A sample of normal tissue may also be removed. These samples are examined under a microscope for cancer cells.

Depending on the size of the removed tumor, you may stay in the hospital overnight.

Afterwards, a catheter (flexible tube) helps drain your bladder for a few days. Your procedure may also be followed by other types of treatment, including intravesical therapy.

You may feel the need to urinate frequently for a while after the surgery, but this should improve over time. You may have blood in your urine for up to 2 to 3 weeks following surgery. You may be instructed to avoid strenuous activity for about 3 weeks following TUR.

The possible risks to undergoing a transurethral resection include:

  • Infection 
  • Bladder scarring/perforation 
  • Urinary bleeding 
  • Postoperative pain