Transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT) is a common surgery for bladder cancer. Blood in your urine is the most common side effect after surgery. More severe side effects are rare.
TURBT is one of the most common treatments for bladder cancer. During the procedure, a surgeon inserts a thin instrument called a resectoscope into your urethra. They can use this instrument to remove the tumor and some surrounding tissue without needing to make an incision.
Although TURBT can be effective at treating bladder cancer, it also comes with a risk of side effects. In this article, we examine the potential side effects and how often they develop.
Complications during the surgery, in order of frequency, were:
- bladder perforation or rupture (in 4.7% of people)
- electrical stimulation of the obturator nerve, which can cause leg spasms and bladder perforation (2%)
- gas explosion from surgical procedures (0.4%)
- injury to the urethra (0.4%)
The most common side effect that occurred during hospitalization after surgery was blood in urine, which affected about
Rare side effects (occurring in 1% or less of people) during hospitalization included:
- urinary retention
- bleeding requiring transfusion
- bladder tamponade (obstruction due to heavy blood clot formation)
- urinary tract infection
- death due to pulmonary embolism or heart attack
- acute coronary syndrome (blocked blood flow to your heart)
- catheter self-extraction
- renal colic (bladder stones blocking the urinary tract)
Some people experience side effects from TURBT surgery even after hospital discharge. The most common side effects within 30 days of leaving the hospital in the above study were:
- urinary tract infections
- other lower urinary tract symptoms
- blood in urine
Side effects that occurred in less than 1% of people during that time included:
- urinary retention
- urinary incontinence
- impotence (inability to get an erection)
- retrograde ejaculation (backflow of semen into the bladder)
- bleeding requiring surgery
- difficulties walking
- bladder tamponade (blockage from too many blood clots in bladder)
How common are complications after TURBT?
Studies have reported complication rates anywhere from
It’s important to contact a doctor if you notice any concerning symptoms after your procedure, such as worsening pain or a fever. It’s also important to attend all scheduled follow-ups so your healthcare team can check whether your procedure was effective.
|• TURBT with chemotherapy
• intravesical bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), a type of immunotherapy
|• TURBT, often more than once, followed by intravesical BCG
• cystectomy (bladder removal)
• radiation therapy, often with chemotherapy
• radiation therapy
• immunotherapy drug nivolumab (Opdivo)
• a second TURBT followed by radiation therapy and chemotherapy
• chemotherapy before surgery, with or without radiation
• a second TURBT followed by chemotherapy and radiation therapy
|• chemotherapy with or without radiation therapy
• urinary diversion without cystectomy to prevent or treat a blockage
It’s important to take it easy after your procedure so your body has time to recover. Drinking plenty of clear fluids can also help the recovery process.
It’s best to avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting for about 2 weeks or until your doctor tells you it’s OK.
Here are some frequently asked questions that people have about the side effects of TURBT.
What is the most common complication of TURBT?
The most common complications of TURBT include blood in your urine and pain when urinating.
How long do side effects of TURBT last?
It can take up to 6–7 weeks for blood in your urine to go away completely after your procedure.
Is TURBT a high risk procedure?
TURBT is typically a safe procedure. About
How many times can you have TURBT for bladder cancer?
Experts currently recommend having more than one TURBT if necessary if you have high risk nonmuscle-invasive bladder cancer to avoid the need for a cystectomy. In a 2015 study from South Korea, some people received TURBT up to five times.
TURBT is the most common treatment for bladder cancer contained to the outermost layer of your bladder. It can cause many side effects, such as blood in your urine, pain when urinating, or a urinary tract infection.
Serious side effects, such as bladder perforation or severe cardiovascular events, are possible, but the risk of these is small.