King Charles III is scheduled to undergo surgery next week to treat an enlarged prostate, Buckingham Palace announced Wednesday. The news came just hours after it was revealed his daughter-in-law Kate, the Princess of Wales, was hospitalized to undergo abdominal surgery.
Timeline of Events
On Tuesday evening, Kensington Palace announced Kate had been admitted to the hospital for planned abdominal surgery to treat an undisclosed condition. She is expected to remain hospitalized for up to two weeks to recover.
Early Wednesday morning, Buckingham Palace announced 73-year-old King Charles would be having surgery next week to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate.
Charles will undergo a minimally invasive surgical procedure called a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). The 30-45 minute procedure involves inserting a resectoscope through the urethra to remove excess prostate tissue obstructing urine flow.
He is expected to spend one night in the hospital after the surgery.
In response to the news, Charles’ eldest son Prince William paid a visit to Kate in the hospital on Wednesday afternoon. William canceled several engagements to be by his wife’s side during her recovery.
What is BPH?
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is an age-related enlargement of the prostate that commonly affects older men. The walnut-sized prostate surrounds the upper portion of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body.
As the prostate enlarges with age, it can constrict the urethra, making it difficult to urinate. Common BHP symptoms include:
- Frequent or urgent need to urinate
- Difficulty starting urination
- Weak urine stream
- Having to get up frequently at night to urinate
- Dribbling at the end of urination
|[BPH Prevalence by Age]
|50-59 years old: 42%
|60-69 years old: 70%
|70-79 years old: 80%
Most men will develop some prostate enlargement as they age. For many it causes no problems, but for others it can severely impact quality of life.
There are medications available to manage mild to moderate BPH symptoms. For more severe cases where medication proves ineffective, surgery may be required. The most common BPH surgeries are transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) and laser procedures.
King Charles falls into the highest risk age group for BPH and reportedly has been experiencing symptoms for some time. Given his age and position, the king likely tried conservative treatments first before opting for surgery.
Inside the Operating Room
The procedure King Charles will undergo next week is called a transurethral resection of the prostate, or TURP. It is a minimally invasive surgery performed under general anesthesia.
During a TURP, the surgeon inserts a resectoscope (a thin tube with a light and camera) into the urethra and up to the prostate. The device utilizes heat from electrical current or a laser to shave off pieces of the enlarged prostate. This relieves pressure on the urethra so urine can flow more freely.
TURP offers rapid relief of BPH symptoms and is considered the reference standard to which other BPH procedures are compared. Though minimally invasive, as with any surgery, TURP does carry potential risks like bleeding and infection.
Patients typically go home the day after surgery and recover full bladder control within about 1-2 weeks.
What Next for the King?
King Charles is scheduled to have his prostate surgery sometime next week. He’ll likely spend one night in the hospital before returning to Windsor Castle to recover.
The king has no major engagements on his calendar for next week, likely intentionally kept free due to his planned procedure. Buckingham Palace said Charles will still carry out essential duties during his recovery.
Meanwhile 36 miles away his daughter-in-law Kate began her own recovery Wednesday after 3 hours of abdominal surgery to treat an undisclosed issue. She is expected to remain hospitalized for up to two weeks.
Though the Palace has not provided specifics, experts say the extended hospitalization suggests Kate’s condition is not trivial. With both Kate and Charles facing health issues, their illnesses cast focus on the advanced age of Britain’s monarch.
At 73, Charles is the oldest person to take the British throne. Second-in-line Prince William is just 41, offering the prospect of stability for the monarchy. But William now faces extra duties covering for his father and injured wife.
The double health crisis also raises questions about Charles’ plan to slim down the working royal family – potentially leaving fewer key players to share the workload. As the public anxiously awaits further word, the revealing of the private health matters represents a departure from the approach of Queen Elizabeth II. She typically played down her ailments during her long reign.
With his country – and indeed the world – wishing both patients a full recovery, only time will tell how King Charles opts to balance his health against his commitment to duty.
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