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A Patient's Guide to Ultrasound Exams of the Prostate

It’s common for a man’s prostate gland to enlarge as he grows older. This doesn’t always indicate prostate cancer. However, if a doctor determines that your prostate gland is enlarged, such as during a digital rectal exam, he or she may request further testing—just in case. You may be referred to an imaging center in San Antonio, where a radiology specialist can perform an ultrasound exam of your prostate gland. prostate - cancer

How Ultrasound Exams Work

These imaging exams are safe and painless. Ultrasound exams use sound waves to create real-time images of the internal structures like the prostate. The sound waves are emitted by a handheld device, called a transducer. The transducer detects the sound waves as they bounce back, and then sends this information to a computer. Advanced software uses the information to generate images. For some exams, the radiology professional moves the transducer around on top of the skin, which is covered in gel. But for prostate exams, a transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) is needed.

How You Should Prepare

The imaging center will give you any needed instructions to prepare for your appointment. If you take blood-thinning medications, you might be asked to temporarily discontinue them. If the radiologist needs to take a biopsy, discontinuing blood-thinners will prevent excessive bleeding. Since you’ll be having a transrectal ultrasound, you may be asked to use an enema about 2 to 4 hours prior to your appointment.

What You Can Expect

You’ll be asked to change into a hospital gown and lie on the exam table on your side, with your knees drawn up. After placing a disposable cover on the transducer, the radiologist adds lubrication and inserts it into the rectum. You may experience some discomfort, but the exam won’t be painful. The radiologist may insert a needle into your prostate gland under the guidance of the real-time ultrasound images to take a small sample of tissue for testing. A TRUS exam does not take very long, and you’ll be able to get back to your usual activities right away.