Alaska Urological Institute

Prostate Ultrasound and Biopsy

Prostate ultrasound and biopsy is an exam that a urologist performs if a preliminary urological exam, such as a blood test, indicates that a patient may have prostate cancer. The doctor uses the ultrasound to “see” the prostate while he or she takes tissue samples for biopsy.

Usually, the patient lies on his side, knees raised towards his chest. The doctor gently inserts an ultrasound sensor, which is a short rod that emits inaudible sound waves, into the rectum. The sound waves are translated into an image of the patient’s entire prostate on a computer monitor, which the doctor uses for a visual inspection (to look for abnormal size or growths) and to identify specific locations for biopsy.

The doctor then removes the sensor and inserts a slightly smaller one that projects a narrower ultrasound image but has an attached tube containing a spring-loaded needle. The doctor guides the sensor to the predetermined areas of the prostate and triggers the needle, which takes tiny tissue samples. These tissue samples are then analyzed in a laboratory.

The needle moves very quickly, so if the patient feels any pain, it lasts for just a second or two. When the sensors are inserted, the patient usually feels discomfort similar to the sensation before a bowel movement.

If a preliminary urological exam shows that a patient may have cancer, AUI physicians take no chances. Laboratory biopsy of tissue samples is the best way to determine whether cancer is or is not present in the prostate.