Transurethral resection of bladder tumour (TURBT)

The operation is known as a transurethral resection of bladder tumour (TURBT). The surgeon will remove the tumour in the bladder through the urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of your body.

TURBT can be used to remove early bladder cancer:

  • during a cystoscopy test if your specialist sees a tumour
  • after having tests that have showed a bladder tumour

It is done under general anaesthetic, which means you are asleep.

Before surgery

You usually go to hospital on the day of your operation. You can’t eat or drink for at least 6 hours beforehand.

You may have a blood test and a chest x-ray before the cystoscopy. This is normal for anyone having a general anaesthetic. You will put on a hospital gown and lie down on the theatre trolley. The trolley is wheeled to the operating theatre, where you have the anaesthetic.

In some hospitals, you may have a spinal anaesthetic instead of a general anaesthetic. This is an injection into your spine (epidural) so you can’t feel anything from below your waist. You may also have some antibiotics before the test.

Your surgeon may put a dye into your bladder an hour before your surgery. The dye is sensitive to light. During the surgery they shine a blue light on the bladder lining. This is called photodynamic diagnosis. It can help to show up areas of cancer more clearly.

The operation

While you are under anaesthetic, your surgeon puts a thin, flexible tube called a cystoscope into your urethra.

They use the cystoscope to look at the inside of your bladder. They also pass small instruments down the cystoscope. They use these instruments to remove any tumours. They then use a probe to seal (cauterise) the area to stop any bleeding.