Information for patients


As men get older it is common for their prostate gland to get bigger. The prostate gland sits at the exit of the bladder like a collar so when it enlarges it can be difficult, or even impossible, for men to pass urine or can cause other bothersome urinary symptoms.  25,000 men each year have an operation to relieve this problem by reducing the size of the prostate, making it one of the most common operations performed in the NHS.

At present the ‘gold’ standard operation for bladder obstruction due to benign prostatic enlargement is called Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP), which has a long history in the NHS and is generally very successful, although it can have some complications. Various laser procedures have been tried but have not become widely used, either because they have been difficult to do, or because the results were not as successful as TURP for relieving symptoms.

Purpose of the trial

UNBLOCS is trialling a new type of laser called Thulium which cuts and vaporises the prostate and has shown promising results.  This is an easier technique for surgeons to do than previous lasers, and there is some evidence to indicate that patients may benefit from reduced blood loss and a faster return home after their operation. 

This four year trial will compare TURP with the laser operation to find out which gives the better results, to establish which is safer and better value for patients and the NHS. The trial has now completed recruitment, and 410 patients have been randomly allocated to either the laser procedure or standard TURP operation across seven centres.

Taking part

Thank you to all of those already taking part in the trial! Your contribution is greatly appreciated and without you the trial would not be possible.

The trial closed to recruitment in December 2016. If you are already participating and looking for further information, please see the resources below:

Patient information - Read the Participant Information Sheet (PDF, 441kB) giving full details of the study.

Surgical information - Read the Surgical Information Sheet (PDF, 604kB) giving full details of the two operations being compared in the study.


Why am I not told which operation I have had?

We want you to fill in your questionnaires without being subconsciously affected by which operation you had.  This is commonly done in clinical trials. We will let you know which operation you had at the end of the trial.

When will we know the results?

We will be looking at the results after all patients have completed the trial, which will now be at the end of 2017.  When we have done this, we will write and let you know the outcome!

What do my questionnaires and clinic appointments tell you?

Your follow up clinics and questionnaires are very important for the trial:

  • your flow tests tell us how well your operation has removed your prostate obstruction
  • your symptom questionnaires tell us how different your operation has made you feel 
  • your resource use questionnaires allow us to compare the costs of the two operations, to see which works out the best value to patients and the NHS. 
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