Digital rectal examination
The digital rectal examination is an examination of the anus and the palpable part of the rectum. It is used in routine medical visits to identify possible lesions of the prostate or rectum. It is performed by a doctor; a general practitioner or a urologist.
Digital rectal examination - the process
A digital rectal examination is recommended annually, beginning at age 50. It can be used to assess the health of the prostate gland, screen for benign hypertrophy or a possible prostate cancer. The examination provides a lot of information to the doctor. It can be used to detect certain rectal wall lesions, inflammation of the prostate or to assess the muscle tone of the anal sphincter if neurological disease is suspected.
The examination process
The doctor introduces a lubricated gloved finger into the patient's anus up to the rectum. The investigation is not very pleasant but is not painful. Obviously it is accepted better if it is well explained. The patient's position depends on the doctor's usual practice, although the most common one is with the patient lying down on his/her back with legs flexed and hands under the buttocks. The examination can also be performed with the person standing, leaning forward with their elbows on the table. Alternatively, the patient can be lying down on their side or on a gynaecology examination table.
Possible risks of the digital rectal examination
There is no risk from the digital rectal examination. The examination is quick and painless and is performed without anaesthesia.
Source: Association française d'urologie (French Urological Association), consulted on 21 January 2011.
An examination that is well accepted if explained well. © carmeta, Fotolia
Digital rectal examination - 1 Photo