Prostate Biopsy and Ultrasound: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

A normal and enlarged prostate

A prostate biopsy is a type of test. A doctor takes small tissue samples from your prostate gland. Then another doctor looks at the tissue under a microscope to see if there are cancer cells, signs of infection, or other problems.

You may need a biopsy if your doctor found something abnormal during a digital rectal examination. Or you may need it if a blood test showed a high level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA). A biopsy can help find out why your PSA level is high. It can also tell if you have prostate cancer.

You will get anesthesia to help numb the prostate. The test takes 15 to 45 minutes and can be done a few different ways. In most cases, the doctor puts a needle through your rectum. This is the fastest and least painful way to get the sample. In other cases, the doctor puts a needle through the urethra. (The urethra is the tube that carries urine out of the body.) Rarely, the needle is put in the area between the anus and scrotum.

The doctor may use ultrasound to help place the needle. During an ultrasound, the doctor puts a small device in your rectum that bounces sound waves off the prostate gland. The pattern of the sound waves creates a picture. This picture helps the doctor find the right spot to put the needle.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Before the test

  • Your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic for you to take.
  • If your doctor tells you to, stop taking blood thinners, aspirin, or medicines that contain aspirin.
  • If your biopsy is done through the rectum, you may need to have an enema before the test.
  • If you are going to be asleep for the test, follow your doctor's instructions on when to stop eating and drinking. (This type of anesthesia usually is not needed for a biopsy done through the rectum.)

After the test

  • Do not do heavy work or exercise for 4 hours after the test.
  • You may have a little pain in your pelvic area. You may also have a little blood in your urine for 1 to 5 days.
  • It's normal to bleed a little from the rectum for 2 to 3 days after the test. But call your doctor or nurse call line if you have more than a little bleeding or if the bleeding does not stop.
  • You may have some blood in your semen for a week or longer when you ejaculate.
  • Take your antibiotics as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have heavy bleeding from your rectum or in your urine.
  • You have pain in your pelvic area that gets worse.
  • You have a fever.
  • You cannot urinate within 8 hours.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You have light rectal bleeding that does not stop after 2 to 3 days.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Current as of: July 26, 2016