Prostate Ultrasound and Needle Biopsy for Diagnosis of Prostate Conditions

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The Prostate Ultrasound

In an ultrasound, a probe called a transducer exposes organs and tissues to high frequency sound waves. The echoing sound waves emitted by tissues in response to the transducer are converted into electrical impulses. These are converted into an image of the region of the body being examined, and displayed on a monitor to be interpreted by a doctor.

In a prostate ultrasound, the transducer is inserted into the rectum so that more accurate and detailed images of the prostate can be obtained. This type of ultrasound is also called a transrectal ultrasound. A transrectal ultrasound is not normally painful, but some discomfort is common. Staying relaxed can help minimize the discomfort.

Men with prostate symptoms such as abnormal level of prostate hormones, difficulty urinating, prostate inflammation, or a lump in or near the prostate, may undergo a prostate ultrasound as a diagnostic measure. A prostate ultrasound can be used to examine the structure of the prostate gland to determine whether the organ is functioning correctly. The ultrasound can detect abnormal growths that may be cancerous, and can help diagnose fertility problems.

Combining Prostate Ultrasound and Needle Biopsy

A prostate ultrasound test is carried out in real time, with the transducer providing images that are constantly updated as the probe is moved around inside the rectum. This means it is useful to carry out procedures such as needle biopsy during a prostate ultrasound.

By combining prostate ultrasound and needle biopsy, a little time is saved, and it also means the patient does not have to go through an extra procedure. Often the decision to carry out a needle biopsy may be made only after the prostate ultrasound is underway. This may occur when an ultrasound reveals the presence of a possibly malignant lump which had not previously been detected. In these cases a needle biopsy is carried out to remove a small sample of tissue that can be tested in a laboratory for the presence of cancer cells.

Most men don’t feel any additional discomfort or pain when needle biopsy is carried out during a prostate ultrasound. This is because where the rectal tissue closest to the prostate has a low level of sensitivity to pain. Most men are able to resume normal activities only a few hours after a transrectal ultrasound.


Radiological Society of North America, Inc. Prostate Ultrasound

Sugandh Shetty, MD. Transrectal Ultrasonography (TRUS) of the Prostate