Prostate ultrasound and biopsy both evaluate the abnormal results of a digital rectal exam or an elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test.
Prostate ultrasound involves a probe about the size of a finger that is inserted a short distance into the rectum. This probe produces harmless high-frequency sound waves, inaudible to the human ear, that bounce off the surface of the prostate. The sound waves are recorded and transformed into video or photographic images of the prostate gland.
The probe can provide images at different angles to help your doctor estimate the size of your prostate and detect any abnormal growths.
A prostate biopsy uses transrectal ultrasound imaging to guide several small needles through the rectum wall into areas of the prostate where abnormalities are detected. The needles remove a tiny amount of tissue. Usually six or more biopsies are taken to test various areas of the prostate. The tissue samples are then analyzed in a laboratory. The results will help doctors diagnose disorders and diseases in the prostate. If cancer is identified, the doctor will be able to grade the cancer and determine its aggressiveness or likelihood of spreading.
Some doctors perform the biopsy through the perineum (skin between the scrotum and rectum).Researchers are investigating alternative biopsy procedures in efforts to maximize the accuracy of these results.