Medical Definition of Rectal exam, digital (DRE)

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Reviewed on 12/27/2018

Rectal exam, digital (DRE): An exam done to detect abnormalities that can be felt (palpated) from within the rectum. The doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum and feels for anything that is not normal.

The digital rectal exam is an important screening test for the detection of tumors of the rectum and prostate abnormalities, including benign enlargement of the prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia) and cancer of the prostate.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018