Why You Need This Test
If a potential prostate problem is identified through a (DRE) digital rectal exam or a PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test, your doctor may suggest that you have an ultrasound. This imaging technique, along with a possible biopsy (tissue sample), helps your doctor discover cancer early, when it's more likely to be treatable.

What Ultrasound Reveals

Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the prostate gland. This can help your doctor identify abnormalities in the gland.

How Ultrasound is Done
The ultrasound test is simple and is often done in your doctor's office. It usually takes less then 15 minutes. To clear your rectum, you may be asked to use an enema or suppository beforehand.

Creating the Image

You will lie on your side and a tube-like probe barely bigger than a thumb is covered with a condom and your doctor gently inserts the probe into your rectum. The probe emits sound waves, creating a image of your prostate on a video screen. Your doctor views the image, looking at the size, shape, and structure of your prostate.

If a Biopsy is Needed

If your doctor finds suspicious areas in your prostate or if your PSA blood test is abnormal, a biopsy may be recommended. You'll be given antibiotics both before and after the test. To do the biopsy, your doctor takes tissue samples from the suspicious areas of your prostate for examination. A biopsy is often done during the ultrasound test.

Your Prostate

Just below your bladder and in front of your rectum is a small, muscular gland called the prostate. It wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine from your bladder. Your prostate produces most of your semen, the fluid that carries sperm.

At Risk for Cancer

If cells in the prostate change abnormally, cancer may form. Cancer often appears in the outer areas of the prostate (near the rectum) before spreading to the inner areas of the gland. Usually, there are no symptoms unless the growth begins to press on the urethra.

Preventing Future Problems

Ultrasound alone is not a complete prostate examination; it's used to investigate abnormalities found by other tests. Even if no problems show up on your ultrasound scan, continue to have regular prostate exams.

Notice: Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.