Bipolar versus monopolar transurethral resection of the prostate for lower urinary tract symptoms secondary to benign prostatic obstruction

Review question

How does surgery using bipolar technology compare with traditional monopolar technology for men with an enlarged prostate causing difficulty with urination?

Background

People with an enlarged prostate can experience difficulty passing urine. This occurs because the enlarged prostate compresses the urinary tube from which urine leaves the bladder. One option for treatment of this condition is telescopic surgery, which acts to remove prostate tissue and relieve the blockage. This is traditionally performed using a technology called monopolar TURP (short for 'transurethral resection of the prostate'). In recent times, a technique called bipolar TURP has been developed. This approach uses saline instead of other watery fluids and may put men at lower risk for a problem called TUR syndrome, which is a rare but potentially serious complication caused by fluid absorption, but it is unclear how the two procedures compare overall.

How up-to-date is this review?

The studies included in this review are those that were available via an electronic database search conducted on 19 March 2019.

Study characteristics

We searched the medical literature for clinical trials up to 19 March 2019. We found 59 randomised trials that compared BTURP with MTURP. These studies included a total of 8924 patients. The longest period of follow-up for the outcomes of interest was 12 months after treatment.

Key results

Compared to MTURP, BTURP probably results in similar reduction in urinary symptoms and bother.

It probably slightly reduces both the risk of TUR syndrome and the need for blood transfusion.

Erectile function is probably similar after both procedures, as is the risk of urinary incontinence and the need for a repeat procedure.

Quality of evidence

The quality of evidence for the outcomes of ability to pass urine, patient bother, TUR syndrome, need for blood transfusion, and erectile function was considered to be moderate. The quality of evidence for the outcomes of urinary leakage after the procedure and need for a repeat procedure was low.

Authors' conclusions: 

BTURP and MTURP probably improve urological symptoms, both to a similar degree. BTURP probably reduces both TUR syndrome and postoperative blood transfusion slightly compared to MTURP. The impact of both procedures on erectile function is probably similar. The moderate certainty of evidence available for the primary outcomes of this review suggests that there is no need for further RCTs comparing BTURP and MTURP.

Read the full abstract...
Background: 

Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) is a well-established surgical method for treatment of men with lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) secondary to benign prostatic obstruction (BPO). This has traditionally been provided as monopolar TURP (MTURP), but morbidity associated with MTURP has led to the introduction of other surgical techniques. In bipolar TURP (BTURP), energy is confined between electrodes at the site of the resectoscope, allowing the use of physiological irrigation medium. There remains uncertainty regarding differences between these surgical methods in terms of patient outcomes.

Objectives: 

To compare the effects of bipolar and monopolar TURP.

Search strategy: 

A comprehensive systematic electronic literature search was carried out up to 19 March 2019 via CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, ClinicalTrials.gov, PubMed, and WHO ICTRP. Handsearching of abstract proceedings of major urological conferences and of reference lists of included trials, systematic reviews, and health technology assessment reports was undertaken to identify other potentially eligible studies. No language restrictions were applied.

Selection criteria: 

Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that compared monopolar and bipolar TURP in men (> 18 years) for management of LUTS secondary to BPO.

Data collection and analysis: 

Two independent review authors screened the literature, extracted data, and assessed eligible RCTs for risk of bias. Statistical analyses were undertaken according to the statistical guidelines presented in the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. The quality of evidence (QoE) was rated according to the GRADE approach.

Main results: 

A total of 59 RCTs with 8924 participants were included. The mean age of included participants ranged from 59.0 to 74.1 years. Mean prostate volume ranged from 39 mL to 82.6 mL.

Primary outcomes

BTURP probably results in little to no difference in urological symptoms, as measured by the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) at 12 months on a scale of 0 to 35, with higher scores reflecting worse symptoms (mean difference (MD) -0.24, 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.39 to -0.09; participants = 2531; RCTs = 16; I² = 0%; moderate certainty of evidence (CoE), downgraded for study limitations), compared to MTURP.

BTURP probably results in little to no difference in bother, as measured by health-related quality of life (HRQoL) score at 12 months on a scale of 0 to 6, with higher scores reflecting greater bother (MD -0.12, 95% CI -0.25 to 0.02; participants = 2004; RCTs = 11; I² = 53%; moderate CoE, downgraded for study limitations), compared to MTURP.

BTURP probably reduces transurethral resection (TUR) syndrome events slightly (risk ratio (RR) 0.17, 95% CI 0.09 to 0.30; participants = 6745; RCTs = 44; I² = 0%; moderate CoE, downgraded for study limitations), compared to MTURP. This corresponds to 20 fewer TUR syndrome events per 1000 participants (95% CI 22 fewer to 17 fewer).

Secondary outcomes

BTURP may carry a similar risk of urinary incontinence at 12 months (RR 0.20, 95% CI 0.01 to 4.06; participants = 751; RCTs = 4; I² = 0%; low CoE, downgraded for study limitations and imprecision), compared to MTURP. This corresponds to four fewer events of urinary incontinence per 1000 participants (95% CI five fewer to 16 more).

BTURP probably slightly reduces blood transfusions (RR 0.42, 95% CI 0.30 to 0.59; participants = 5727; RCTs = 38; I² = 0%; moderate CoE, downgraded for study limitations), compared to MTURP. This corresponds to 28 fewer events of blood transfusion per 1000 participants (95% CI 34 fewer to 20 fewer).

BTURP may result in similar rates of re-TURP (RR 1.02, 95% CI 0.44 to 2.40; participants = 652; RCTs = 6; I² = 0%; low CoE, downgraded for study limitations and imprecision). This corresponds to one more re-TURP per 1000 participants (95% CI 19 fewer to 48 more).

Erectile function as measured by the International Index of Erectile Function score (IIEF-5) at 12 months on a scale from 5 to 25, with higher scores reflecting better erectile function, appears to be similar (MD 0.88, 95% CI -0.56 to 2.32; RCTs = 3; I² = 68%; moderate CoE, downgraded for study limitations) for the two approaches.

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