Non-Muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer


Transurethral resection of bladder tumour (TURBT)

Transurethral resection of bladder tumour (TURBT)

TURBT is the surgical removal (resection) of bladder tumours. This procedure is both diagnostic and therapeutic. It is diagnostic because the surgeon removes the tumour and all additional tissue necessary for examination under a microscope (histological assessment). TURBT is also therapeutic because complete removal of all visible tumours is the treatment for this cancer. Complete and correct TURBT is essential for good prognosis. In some cases, a second surgery is required after several weeks.

TURBT is performed by the insertion of a rigid endoscope through the urethra into the bladder, with the patient under general anaesthesia (combination of intravenous drugs and inhaled gasses; you are ‘asleep’) or spinal anaesthesia (an injection is given in the lower back to numb the lower part of the body; you are awake). TURBT usually takes no longer than 1 hour and requires a short hospital stay. After the operation, a transurethral catheter is usually placed for a few days.

As in any surgical procedure, bleeding and infections may occur after the surgery. Symptomatic infections are treated with antibiotics and rarely require longer hospitalisation. Perforation of the bladder during the operation is not very common but can occur if the removal procedure goes too deep. Perforations usually resolve with catheterization for a few days; however, some cases require open surgery and suturing of the bladder.

Although TURBT can eradicate stage Ta or T1 tumours, some tumours commonly recur and can progress to invasive cancer. Washing the bladder with drugs to prevent the growth or spread of cancer cells (intravesical instillation) after TURBT should be considered for all patients. Instillation treatment is described later in the next section.

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Read more about TURBT, how it is performed and how to prepare for the procedure.