Transurethral Resection of a Bladder Tumor (TURBT)

Image of resectoscope used in transurethral resection of bladder tumorWhat is a TURBT?

Generally, after the diagnosis of a bladder tumor, the urologist will suggest that the patient have an outpatient surgical procedure in the hospital. The doctor may refer to this procedure as a TURBT (transurethral resection of a bladder tumor). The TURBT will allow the doctor to examine the bladder more completely under anesthesia (general or spinal). To see inside the bladder, they use a resectoscope. Like the cystoscope, the resectoscope,  is introduced through the urethra into the bladder. 

Image of wire loop used to remove tumor in TURBTThis tool has a small electrified loop of wire at the end that can resect (remove) a tumor. The loop also cauterizes (seals off) the blood vessels to help stop any bleeding. This is sometimes called electrocauterization or fulguration. One of the advantages of this procedure is that it can be performed repeatedly with minimal risk to the patient and with excellent results. There is less than a 10% risk of infection or injury to the bladder, and both are easily correctable.


Are there side effects to a TURBT?

The most common side effects of the TURBT are bleeding, pain, and burning when urinating. These may be intermittent and can last for up to one month. If the bladder tumor is large, the urologist may choose to leave a catheter in the patient’s bladder for a day or two. This helps to minimize problems occurring from bleeding, clot formation in the bladder or expansion of the bladder due to possible storage of excess urine or blood. Even if the tumor is small, a catheter may be inserted to rinse the bladder out if the bleeding persists.

What happens to the tumor after a TURBT?

All the tumor specimens from the TURBT will be sent to a pathologist for review. The pathologist will confirm the type of bladder cancer and the depth of invasion into the bladder wall, if any. This will help the pathologist and your medical team determine the stage and grade of your bladder cancer. These findings, along with results from imaging such as CT scans, will determine the type and duration of further treatment if necessary.

Video: What is a TURBT?

Where can I learn more about the TURBT?

Learn more by watching the Understanding TURBT and Cystoscopy webinar with Drs. Jeff Montgomery and Ken Nepple.

Click here to read our Get the Facts | TURBT (PDF), filled with advice from patients who have experienced it.

Information and services provided by the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) are for informational purposes only. The information and services are not intended to be substitutes for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are ill, or suspect that you are ill, seek professional medical attention immediately! BCAN does not recommend or endorse any specific physicians, treatments, procedures or products even though they may be mentioned on this site.