Transrectal ultrasound also called prostate ultrasound is a painless imaging test that is used to diagnose and produce real-time images of the male’s prostate glands, detect abnormalities, and determine if the gland is enlarged.
In men, the prostate gland is located at the front of the rectum. Transrectal ultrasound is a type of pelvic ultrasound used to investigate nodule found a rectal exam.
The test is internal unlike abdominal ultrasound where the transducer is rubbed against your abdomen, in transrectal ultrasound the transducer is inserted into the anus.
Uses of Transrectal Ultrasound
Since ultrasound scan are used to produce real-time images of the internal organs/structure, Transrectal ultrasound can be used to diagnose a variety of condition and can be used to check for;
- Prostate enlargement: To determine if the prostate is enlarged.
- Diagnosing the cause of infertility in men.
- Diagnosing disorders within the prostate.
- Diagnose the cause of difficulty in urinating
- Evaluating elevated blood test.
It can also serve as a guide to procedures such as needle biopsy a situation in which needles are used to extract a sample of the cell from an organ for a Laboratory test.
Who Performs the Transrectal Ultrasound
Transrectal ultrasound is performed by an ultrasound sonographer or technician. A diagnostic radiologist or radiologist is a medical professional who is trained to interprete ultrasound images.
Procedures of Transrectal Ultrasound
Transrectal ultrasound is performed in a hospital. The procedure takes less than 20mins generally. Steps include;
- Lying down on your side with your knees bent on a table in the ultrasound room which usually has dark or dimly light, to enable easy reading of the ultrasound images on the ultrasound screen.
- Depending on the type of examination, you may be asked to blood thinners such as aspirin for about 7-10 days before the ultrasound exam. Also, you may need to clean out your bowel with an enema 2-4 hours before the scan.
- The sonographer will cover the transducer with a lubricated disposable protective cover and insert it into your anus. It is the transducer that sends and receives soundwaves to produce the image on the ultrasound screen.
- The sonographer will slowly move or rotate the transducer while it’s inside your body to have a clear picture of the internal organs and if a lesion is identified, then an ultrasound guided biopsy is performed.
- You may be asked to wait for a short while. Then the diagnostic radiologist will check if the imaging was complete.
- After an imaging test, the patient is usually asked to go home.
What you may experience during and after a Transrectal ultrasound
During a Transrectal ultrasound, you may experience minimal discomfort as the transducer is inserted into your anus or if biopsy is performed you may also experience discomfort when the needle is being inserted into the prostate gland.
Any pain or discomfort during this exam is usually temporary. After the Transrectal ultrasound, you will be asked to dress and sit for a while as the result is being reviewed.
You may be given the results or asked to return to the hospital in a few days and should be able to resume normal activities after an ultrasound scan but if pains persists after the scan then do not hesitate to call your doctor.
Benefits of Transrectal Ultrasound
Some known benefits of Transrectal ultrasound are listed below:
- It is not painful although it may be uncomfortable temporarily.
- It is noninvasive which means that there are no injections or needles.
- It is a tool for guiding minimally invasive procedures (needle biopsies)
- It is less expensive and easy to use compared to other imaging methods.
- It is widely available compared to other imaging methods and provides great internal details when accessing soft tissue structures.
- It is completely safe and it uses soundwaves not radiation.
- It provides a more clear picture of soft tissues that did not show up clearly on x-ray.
Risks/complications of Transrectal Ultrasound
A standard ultrasound diagnostics do have a known harmful effect on the human body, but an interpretation of the ultrasound may lead to other procedures and followups.
Limitations of Transrectal Ultrasound
Though ultrasound scan is painless and has no known harmful effect on the human body, Transrectal ultrasound can be limited in men who has had surgery and removed the tail end of their rectum.
Transrectal ultrasound is mainly used to diagnose problems or abnormalities in the male prostate glands. It is safe and does not require the use of needles so you don’t have to be scared if a transrectal ultrasound is recommended for you by a doctor.