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Prostate Biopsy

A prostate gland camera.gif biopsy is a test to remove small samples of prostate tissue to be examined under a microscope.

For a prostate biopsy, a thin needle is inserted through the rectum (transrectal biopsy), through the urethra, or through the area between the anus and scrotum (perineum). A transrectal biopsy is the most common method used. The tissue samples taken during the biopsy are examined for cancer cells.

A biopsy may be done when a blood test shows a high level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) or after a digital rectal examination finds an abnormal prostate or a lump.

Why It Is Done

A prostate biopsy is done to determine:

  • If a lump found in the prostate gland is cancer.
  • The cause of a high level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood.

How To Prepare

Tell your doctor if you:

You will be asked to sign a consent form that says you understand the risks of the test and agree to have it done.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the biopsy, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of the biopsy, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

If a prostate biopsy is done under local anesthesia through the area between the anus and scrotum (perineum), no other special preparation is needed.

If the biopsy is done through the rectum, you may need to have an enema before the biopsy.

If the biopsy is done under general anesthesia, your doctor will tell you how soon before surgery to stop eating and drinking. Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking, or your surgery may be canceled. If your doctor has instructed you to take your medicines on the day of the surgery, please do so using only a sip of water.

During preparation for the biopsy, an intravenous line (IV) is inserted in your arm, and a sedative medicine is given about an hour before the biopsy.

How It Is Done

This biopsy is done by a doctor who specializes in men's genital and urinary problems (urologist) in the doctor's office, a day surgery clinic, or a hospital operating room.

Before your prostate biopsy, you may be given antibiotics to prevent infection. You may be asked to take off all of your clothes and put on a hospital gown.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 28, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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