A digital rectal exam (DRE) is a medical test in which a healthcare provider inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to check for any abnormalities in the prostate gland. The test is typically performed as part of a routine physical exam or to investigate symptoms such as difficulty urinating, blood in the urine or semen, or pelvic pain. In this article, we will discuss the purpose and procedure of a digital rectal exam.
The Purpose of a Digital Rectal Exam:
The primary purpose of a digital rectal exam is to check the health of the prostate gland. The prostate gland is a small gland located between the bladder and the penis in males. It produces a fluid that is a component of semen. The prostate gland can become enlarged, inflamed, or cancerous, which can lead to symptoms such as difficulty urinating, pain during ejaculation, and blood in the urine or semen.
A digital rectal exam can detect abnormalities in the prostate gland, including:
- Enlargement or inflammation of the prostate gland
- Lumps or nodules on the prostate gland
- Hardness or areas of increased density on the prostate gland
- Tenderness or pain in the prostate gland
The Procedure of a Digital Rectal Exam:
A digital rectal exam is a simple and quick procedure that usually takes only a few minutes to complete. Here are the steps involved in a digital rectal exam:
- Preparation: The patient is usually asked to remove their clothing from the waist down and lie on their side with their knees pulled up towards their chest.
- Lubrication: The healthcare provider will apply a small amount of lubricant to their finger to make it easier to insert into the rectum.
- Insertion: The healthcare provider will gently insert their gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum and feel for abnormalities in the prostate gland. The patient may feel some discomfort or pressure during this part of the exam, but it should not be painful.
- Removal: The healthcare provider will remove their finger and dispose of the glove. The patient will be given time to dress and can usually resume their normal activities immediately after the exam.
A digital rectal exam is a routine medical test that is used to check the health of the prostate gland. It is a simple and quick procedure that usually takes only a few minutes to complete. The exam can detect abnormalities in the prostate gland, including enlargement, inflammation, and cancer. While the exam may be uncomfortable, it is a necessary part of maintaining good prostate health and should be performed as recommended by a healthcare provider.