There are several operations to treat an enlarged prostate gland. The most common procedure is a transurethral prostatectomy, in which only the core of the gland is removed. The operation is performed under general or spinal anaesthesia and requires a hospital stay. Since the rest of the gland will continue to enlarge, symptoms may recur and further surgery may be necessary later. About 8 in 10 men are infertile after this type of surgery because sperm pass into the bladder on ejaculation, but orgasm is normal. Transurethral prostatectomy can also result in erectile dysfunction.
A specialized viewing instrument called a resectoscope is passed along the urethra (the tube leading from the bladder to the outside of the body) until it reaches the prostate. A heated wire (diathermy wire) is then introduced through the resectoscope and used to cut away prostate tissue, thus widening the urethra.
After surgery, the diathermy wire and the resectoscope are withdrawn. A catheter is passed into the bladder to drain urine. An irrigation system is attached to the catheter to wash out urine and blood, with the aim of stopping clots from forming. The catheter is left in place for 2–3 days.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.