The Digital Rectal Exam Nightmare

What is a digital rectal exam? A digital rectal exam is an examination done with a gloved finger which is lubed and slid into the rectum to feel the prostate gland for enlargement.

Why do they do this? This is done as part of a regular physical examination or by a urologist when prostate problems are suspected.

They check for knots or swelling of the prostate. Tumors can feel like hard lumps. You can’t feel all of the prostates problems through the rectum. But there is a thin wall between the prostate and the rectum which allows the doctor to detect swelling.

What are the procedures? A man will sometimes be given a gown to put on, and other times he will just be instructed to drop his drawers. Different doctors want to do the DRE in their own ways. The doctor will first examine the outside of the anus for hemorrhoids or fissures.

Some doctors examine a man while he stands, bending forward at the waist. Other doctors may examine the man while lying on his left side, with his knees bent toward his chest. Some doctors tell you to grab your ankles and others have you lay belly down over the side of the table.

The doctor will ask you to try to relax before the test and to take a deep breath during the actual insertion of the finger into the rectum. Your doctor gently puts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum.

This will make you feel like you are going to pee on yourself.  He or she may use the other hand to press on the lower belly or pelvic area to feel for tenderness.

A digital rectal exam is also done to collect stool for testing for fecal blood as part of screening for colorectal cancer. This procedure is also done before other tests, such as a colonoscopy, to make sure nothing is blocking the rectum before inserting an instrument.

If no lumps or growths are found the doctor will say that everything feels ok. He will then check the urine and the blood if he feels it’s necessary. If tests reveal blood, but there is no obvious bleeding, the patient will get blood tests for anemia, followed by colonoscopy.

A male patient with an enlarged or nodular prostate will get a blood test of prostate specific antigen PSA test, and then possibly a prostate ultrasound and biopsy by his urologist.

I have had that test before to test for a prostate infection, and when that finger hit the prostate I almost flew over the table. And the doctor says yep you have a prostate infection. Of course he tested the urine and blood too. But I was given an antibiotic for a period of weeks and then it finally went away. The DRE is definitely one test that we men do not like at all. We always dread it but it’s necessary for our health.

What are some of the symptoms? You may have difficulty urinating, starting or stopping your stream and you may experience some burning when urinating or cloudy urine. You can even feel the soreness sometimes and discomfort when you are sitting in chair too long. This feels like a big bruise on your bottom.

Guys if you feel any of these symptoms go to your doctor or urologist and let him examine you. If you have an infection he can prescribe you an antibiotic, but if turns out to be something worse then it’s a good thing to catch it in time.

Remember fellows it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Disclaimer: This article is not meant to provide health advice. It’s based on my own experience. Always seek the insights of a qualified health professional before embarking on any health program.

Copyright 2010 all rights reserved

4-14-2010 Wednesday 7:18pm Timothy Edward Wilhelm

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