What is a prostate ultrasound and biopsy, and why would you need one?
The prostate is the part of your body that makes fluid for semen, which is the fluid that carries sperm. The gland surrounds part of your urethra, which is the tube that carries urine and sperm outside of the body. The prostate has muscles that move the sperm out of the body.
If you are having problems with your prostate, you might be having difficulties related to pushing urine or sperm out of your urethra and penis. Your healthcare provider may ask you to have a prostate ultrasound and biopsy to check for prostate cancer.
A prostate ultrasound probe is inserted into the rectum and uses sound waves to produce images inside the rectum to help image the prostate and guide the doctor in taking a biopsy (tissue sample) of the prostate gland. Prostate ultrasound and biopsy are used to diagnose prostate cancer or to find the reason for other problems. A doctor may require this test if a patient has high levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) found in a blood test, or has an abnormal prostate exam both suggesting that the patient may have a high risk for prostate cancer.
What can you expect during a prostate ultrasound and biopsy?
The procedure is short and generally only takes about 10 minutes. Your urologist, a doctor specializing in men’s genital and urinary problems, will perform the procedure.
- Upon arrival in the examination room, you will be given antibiotics to prevent infection.
- You will be asked to lie on your side and bring your knees to your chest.
- The area being tested may be numbed to help reduce any discomfort.
- A lubricated probe is inserted into the rectum to generate the ultrasound.
- A small needle is inserted through the probe to take several tiny tissue samples from the prostate. Some men may feel mild pressure or discomfort during the procedure.
- After tissue samples are taken, they are sent to a lab for an analysis.
How should you prepare for a prostate ultrasound and biopsy?
Preparation for a prostate ultrasound and biopsy is simple. You shouldn’t take any blood-thinning medications such as warfarin (Coumadin®), clopidogrel (Plavix®), aspirin or ibuprofen before a prostate biopsy because blood thinner increase the risk of bleeding. If you are already taking blood thinners, your doctor will discuss with you how many days prior to the biopsy they should be held.
Most healthcare providers don’t ask you to follow any type of special diet before a biopsy. However, they suggest eating lightly before the procedure and drinking only clear liquids. Check with your provider’s office to see if you need to do anything additional to prepare for the test.
What happens after a prostate ultrasound and biopsy?
When the procedure is finished, you may resume your normal meals and daily activities, unless otherwise instructed. Some urologists may prescribe an antibiotic after the biopsy to prevent any infections, but given antibiotics only prior to the biopsy. Some men may have soreness for a few days after the procedure, which is normal. Your provider will contact you when your results are available
Results and Follow-Up
Are there any problems to expect after a prostate ultrasound and biopsy?
In some cases, men can develop a urinary tract infection or an infection in the prostate. These infections are rare and easy to treat with prescribed antibiotics.
Blood in the urine and/or stool is common for three to five days after the biopsy. It is also common to have blood in your semen for up to two to three months after the biopsy. This is not harmful to you or your partner and will eventually go away on its own. You should avoid heavy lifting for two to three days to help avoid bleeding issues.
Some men may also have trouble urinating after the procedure. Most problems are minor and go away on their own after a few days. If you aren’t able to urinate at all, call your healthcare provider or go to the emergency room. Make sure that you tell them that you just had the ultrasound and biopsy.
Call your healthcare provider or if you have any concerns about something after your procedure. Call the provider or go to an emergency room if you develop:
- A fever of 100 degrees F or higher.
- Shaking or chills.
- Excessive bleeding.
- Excessive pain.
- Inability to urinate.
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