What Is A Prostate Ultrasound?
A prostate ultrasound is similar to an ultrasound performed on pregnant women. An ultrasound in general takes pictures of the inside of the body using sound waves.
But First, What Is A Prostate?
The prostate is part of the male reproductive system, situated under the bladder and in front of the rectum and encircles the urethra. The prostate is about the size of a walnut but enlarges as a normal part of aging.
Typically, prostate ultrasounds are performed after finding high levels of prostate-specific antigens (PSAs) during a blood test. PSAs are substances made by cells in the prostate gland. Healthy PSA levels are under 4 nanograms per milliliter of blood. As the PSA level rises, so does the chance of having prostate cancer (though about 15% of men with a PSA below 4 will show prostate cancer on a biopsy). There are a few other factors that can cause elevated PSA levels:
- An enlarged prostate
- Older age
- Prostatitis (infection or inflammation of the prostate)
- Riding a bicycle
- Certain medicines
A prostate ultrasound detects the abnormal results of a digital rectal exam. The procedure involves a probe, inserted into the rectum. The probe emits high-frequency sound waves, which are recorded and transformed into photos/video images of the prostate. Performed at different angles, a prostate ultrasound helps your doctor see the size of your prostate and find any growths.
You may need a prostate ultrasound in order to:
- Detect any prostate disorders (including prostate cancer)
- Determine if the prostate is enlarged
- Detect any growths
- Diagnose the cause of infertility
- Diagnose difficulty urinating
- Examine further into blood test results
During the Procedure
During a prostate ultrasound, you will be asked to remove and clothing or jewelry and be given a gown to wear. The doctor will ask you to lie on the exam table with your knees bent to your chest. A transducer (a device that converts energy into different forms) will be lubricated an inserted into the rectum. Most people report a feeling of fullness during this part of the procedure. The transducer will be rotated a few times to fully asses the prostate and removed from the rectum.
After the procedure you may resume your normal activities and meals and you should drink six to eight glasses of water every day for three days to flush the urinary system. You may notice blood in your urine, semen, or stool after the procedure but this is perfectly normal.