What Is a Transrectal Ultrasound of the Prostate?

Medically Reviewed on 4/12/2022
Transrectal Ultrasound of the Prostate
Transrectal ultrasound of the prostate is a procedure done using high-energy sound waves generated by a probe inserted into the rectum.

Transrectal ultrasound (also called endorectal ultrasound) of the prostate is a procedure in which imaging of the prostate, rectum, and nearby tissues is done using high-energy sound waves (ultrasound waves) generated by a probe inserted into the rectum.

  • These ultrasound waves are echoed differently by various tissues or organs.
  • The reflected waves help create an internal image of the organs forming a sonogram
  • The sonogram helps detect any abnormalities in the rectum and nearby structures such as the prostate.

Why is a transrectal ultrasound of the prostate done?

Transrectal ultrasound of the prostate may be done when a man presents with any symptoms of prostate diseases such as:

These symptoms may be due to prostate conditions such as benign prostatic hypertrophy or prostate cancer.

Transrectal ultrasound of the prostate may be done when the blood tests or a per rectal examination reveals any abnormalities related to the prostate. Transrectal ultrasound of the prostate may help diagnose the cause of infertility in men.

Besides creating an image of the internal structures, a transrectal ultrasound may help collect a small sample from a mass or nodule in the prostate (biopsy), which is then examined in the lab.


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How do I prepare for a transrectal ultrasound?

Your doctor will have a detailed discussion with you before the procedure. They will answer your questions related to the procedure and explain to you how to prepare for it. Moreover, they will ask you to sign a consent form for the procedure.

  • You may need to remove your accessories and wear a hospital gown before the procedure.
  • You do not typically need to stop eating or drinking before the procedure.
  • Anesthesia or sedation is generally not required.
  • If you are on any blood thinners, your doctor may ask you to stop them a few days before the procedure.

Additionally, they may prescribe you a laxative (stool softener) or administer an enema before the procedure because the presence of feces in the rectum may make imaging difficult or inaccurate.

What are the risks of a transrectal ultrasound of the prostate?

Transrectal ultrasound of the prostate is a safe procedure with minimal pain or discomfort. The procedure does not use any harmful radiation such as X-rays and is thus quite safe.

There may be mild discomfort, similar to a per rectal examination when the probe or transducer is inserted into the rectum.

Needle insertion may be needed when a biopsy is done. However, the rectal wall is insensitive to pain in the region of the prostate. Hence, the discomfort is minimal even when a biopsy is done although the procedure may take a little more time than when done without doing the biopsy.

You may notice a little amount of blood in the semen or urine for a few days following the procedure.

Some people may develop allergic reactions due to the latex in which the transducer probe is covered before inserting. Inform your doctor before the procedure if you have any allergies, underlying health conditions, or take any medications.

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Medically Reviewed on 4/12/2022
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