Bladder lesions are abnormal growths or tumors on the bladder lining. They can be removed by having an operation called a transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT), although treatment options depend on the size of the tumor, where it is located, and how far the cancer may have spread.
TURBT is usually done under general anesthesia. This means you will be asleep during the operation and will feel no pain.
Once the anesthetic has taken effect, a thin rod-like instrument with a tiny light and lens on the tip, called a cystoscope, will be carefully inserted into the urethra. Next, saline solution will be passed through the cystoscope to fill the bladder up and to make the whole of the lining visible.
Your surgeon will find the lesion and insert a special wire loop through the cystoscope. An electric current is passed down the wire loop and used to cut or burn off the lesion. This also seals the wound to stop any bleeding. Some healthy tissue around the lesion may also be removed.
At the end of the procedure, the cystoscope is taken out, and a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) is passed into the urethra and left in place for about 24 hours. The catheter will drain urine from your bladder into a bag. The catheter may also be connected to a system that washes any blood and blood clots out of your bladder. This is called bladder irrigation.
The removed lesions are sent to a laboratory for examination. If the bladder lesion is cancerous, the tests will show how far the cancer has spread and if further treatment is required. In some cases, removing the lesion is all that is needed.
The procedure usually lasts 30 minutes, slightly longer if more than one lesion is present.
After the procedure, you will be taken from the operating theater to a recovery room, where you will come round from the anesthesia under close supervision. .
To ensure any remaining abnormal cells are killed and to help lower the chance of new lesions or tumors forming, you may be given anti-cancer drugs through the catheter. Giving drugs directly into the bladder means very little is absorbed into the rest of the body, so fewer side effects exist.