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To evaluate the natural history of a group of patients who underwent contact laser prostatectomy or transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP).Patients were followed up at 5 years after enrolling in a prospective double-blind randomized controlled trial of TURP vs contact laser prostatectomy.Of the initial trial patients, 11.5% had died (seven in the laser and 10 in the TURP arm) and eight (5.4%) were too incapacitated by coexistent medical disease to respond to the questionnaires. Thirty-eight patients were not available for follow-up, despite numerous invitations. Thirteen of the laser patients (18%) and 11 of the TURP patients (14.5%) had undergone re-operation. Two patients from each arm had received α-blockers for worsening symptoms.Five years after prostatic surgery, a significant number of patients were dead or disabled by coexistent medical disease. The re-operation rate after TURP and contact laser prostatectomy were similar.