TURBT is an acronym for TransUrethral Resection of Bladder Tumor. This is a surgical procedure in which a surgeon operates on a person with a bladder tumor to take a biopsy, or a sample of tissue, although he may completely remove it. As part of the surgery, and in the case of cancer, he may also burn away any remaining cancer cells in a process called fulguration.
This procedure can be used both for diagnosis and for treatment. A biopsy can confirm whether the tumor is cancerous or not. Using this procedure to remove the tumor is generally reserved for non-aggressive cancer. Aggressive cases, when cancer is spreading rapidly, may require other treatment methods, such as bladder removal.
Typically, the patient is placed under general anesthesia for the operation, meaning that he will be unconscious. To prepare for the anesthesia, the patient will need to avoid eating and drinking for a period of time. Prior to surgery, the patient should discuss all other medical conditions he may have, as well as any medications or supplements he is taking. The surgeon may instruct him to stop using certain medications for a period of time.
Once the patient is unconscious, the surgeon will insert a small camera, called a cystoscope, into the bladder via the urethra. A tool called a resectoscope can then be passed up through the cystoscope. The resectoscope has a wire loop with the ability to transfer an electrical current used to cut tissue.
A biopsy of the tumor can be taken for diagnosis. If the tumor is small and non-aggressive, it may simply be removed. For cancer that has been confirmed to be non-aggressive, the resectoscope can also burn away any remaining cancer cells.
TURBT surgery requires the use of a catheter, or thin tube, that is inserted into the bladder to drain any urine. This procedure can cause urine to become bloody or to contain blood clots. To clear the clots, the doctor may need to flush the bladder. Sometimes, patients are unable to urinate on their own once the catheter is taken out, so they may be sent home with a catheter. They will need to use the catheter until they regain normal bladder function.
While recovering from surgery, patients should drink plenty of water each day. They will also need to avoid heavy lifting, stair climbing, and driving, as well as sexual activity. Normal activities may typically be resumed in about three to four weeks.
Some of the possible risks of TURBT surgery may include a bladder infection, also known as cystitis, and bleeding. Patients may also experience bloody urine, as well as irritation or burning during urination. There is also the risk of blood clots blocking the urethra, as well as perforation of the bladder. Patients should inform their doctor if they develop a fever, abdominal pain, or severe pain with urination. They should also seek medical help if they are unable to urinate or if their urine becomes extremely bloody.