A prostate ultrasound is used to check the size, location and shape of the prostate gland.
The prostate gland is a part of the male reproductive system and makes fluid for semen, which carries sperm. The prostate, which is a muscular gland that surrounds part of the urethra (the tube through which urine and sperm pass), helps move sperm outside of the body during ejaculation. A prostate ultrasound may be performed to check the size, location and shape of the prostate gland and nearby structures.
Why Is a Prostate Ultrasound Performed?
Problems with the prostate can involve difficulties with pushing urine or sperm out of the urethra and penis. In these instances, your doctor may recommend a prostate ultrasound to determine what is causing the problems.
For example, your doctor may recommend this test if you have:
- A blood test showing high levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA)
- Masses or lumps in the prostate or an otherwise abnormal prostate exam
- A previous biopsy that revealed abnormal tissues cells that weren’t cancerous at the time
Results like these may suggest that you may have a high risk for prostate cancer, though other conditions may be in play.
A radiologist performs the prostate ultrasound procedure, which generally proceeds like this:
- You will be asked to undress from the waist down and lie on an examination table on your side with your knees to your chest.
- A lubricated ultrasound probe (called a transducer) about the size of a finger is inserted a short distance into the rectum.
- The probe creates inaudible sound waves, which bounce off the surface of your prostate and other internal organs.
- The radiologist will move the probe several times to capture images of the prostate at different angles. This will help your doctor estimate the size of the prostate gland and identify any abnormal growths.
- If the flow of blood is being tested, a Doppler probe may be used.
- A machine records the sound waves and turns them into videos or photos of your prostate gland.
Another form of prostate ultrasound is used during a prostate biopsy procedure. During a biopsy, the inserted transducer helps the physician guide a needle into the prostate to collect tiny tissue samples.
What to Expect
There is little you will need to do to prepare for a prostate ultrasound. You may feel uncomfortable during the procedure, but the process is short. You can resume your normal daily activities following the procedure unless your doctor instructs you otherwise. There is no risk for radiation during this procedure.
Prostate ultrasound is an effective diagnostic tool, helping urologists identify and diagnose prostate cancer and other problems with the prostate, alongside other tests and exams. The urologists, radiologists, oncologists and other men’s health experts at Tampa General Hospital work together to provide accurate diagnoses and tailored treatments for prostate cancer and other prostate conditions.