Prostate Ultrasound

Healthcare provider performing transrectal ultrasound on male patient.An ultrasound is a type of imaging test. It can be used to look at the prostate. It’s a safe procedure that does not use radiation. It uses high-frequency sound waves.

When ultrasound is used

You may need ultrasound on your prostate if your health care provider thinks you may have prostate cancer. An ultrasound is most often done after a digital rectal exam (DRE) or a PSA blood test. These are screening tests for prostate cancer.

How ultrasound helps

Ultrasound uses sound waves to create an image of the prostate gland. It helps your health care provider see if the gland looks abnormal. It can also be used to help guide a biopsy. This is a procedure that removes tiny pieces of tissue to test. A prostate biopsy is done with a needle. Ultrasound helps your health care provider see where to put the needle.

Before the procedure

You may be told to use an enema or suppository the night or morning before. This is to clear your rectum of stool. The test is often done in your health care provider's office. It usually takes less than 15 minutes. If a biopsy may be done, you’ll be given antibiotics before and after the test.

During the procedure

What happens during the procedure:

  • You lie on your side with your knees bent or with your feet in stirrups. 

  • A disposable cover is put on the ultrasound probe. The probe is tube-shaped and a bit larger than a thumb. A jelly is put on the probe to lubricate it.

  • Your health care provider gently inserts the probe into your rectum. This may cause some discomfort.

  • The probe emits sound waves. These create an image of your prostate on a computer screen. Your health care provider looks at the image. The size and shape of your prostate are checked for problems.

  • When the test is done, the probe is removed.

  • You can go home the same day, and go back to your normal activities.

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