How Painful Is a Prostate Biopsy?

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A prostate biopsy is a simple surgical procedure that takes just 10 minutes.

A prostate biopsy is a simple surgical procedure that takes just 10 minutes.

A prostate biopsy is a simple surgical procedure that takes just 10 minutes. It involves inserting the biopsy needle through the wall of your rectum to reach your prostate to cut and remove around 10-12 small samples of tissue from the prostate. The idea of the procedure makes a prostate biopsy appear as an extremely painful procedure. Administering anesthesia before the procedure makes the surgical area numb throughout the procedure. After the procedure, you will feel mild pain and discomfort in your abdominal region (near the prostate) that lasts only for a day or two when you sit. This pain usually resolves with pain medications.

What are the different types of a prostate biopsy procedure?

The surgeon can choose any of the three different ways of performing a prostate biopsy. These are as follows:

  • Transrectal method: This is the most common method of performing a prostate biopsy. In this, the surgical instruments are inserted through the rectum (the lowest part of the large bowel).
  • Perineal method: This is done through the area lying between the scrotum and rectum.
  • Transurethral method: A cystoscope (long tube-like camera) is inserted through the urethra (the tube-like structure through which the urine flows from the bladder).

An ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is usually used to guide the procedure.

Why do you need a prostate biopsy?

A prostate biopsy is done to confirm or rule out prostate cancer.

The doctor may recommend a prostate biopsy for you if

  • Your prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test shows high blood levels of PSA.
  • Your digital rectal exam (DRE) reveals some growths or abnormalities near the prostate.

Sometimes, your doctor may order a repeat biopsy if your previous biopsy shows abnormal prostate cells that were not cancerous or the results of the biopsy were not clear.


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How do you prepare for a prostate biopsy?

Your doctor will get you tested for urinary tract infections (UTI). If UTI is detected, the biopsy will be postponed till the infection clears with antibiotics.

You need to stop taking blood-thinning medications such as aspirin and warfarin and any other medications as advised by your doctor several days before the surgery.

Your doctor or nurse may instruct you to take an enema before the procedure. This helps to keep the bowels clean during the surgery.

How long does it take to recover from a prostate biopsy?

Your doctor may prescribe you a short course of an antibiotic.

You can only do light activities for 24-48 hours after your prostate biopsy.

For a few days, it is normal to experience

  • Discomfort near your rectum.
  • Light bleeding from your rectum.
  • Blood in your urine.
  • Blood in your semen.

Call your doctor if you

  • Develop a fever.
  • Feel pain while passing urine.
  • Experience heavy bleeding through the rectum/urethra.

Is there an alternative to a prostate biopsy?

Your doctor only advises you to undergo a prostate biopsy if he feels that all other tests point toward the possibility of prostate cancer. Therefore, if you want to confirm that you have prostate cancer, there is no alternative to a prostate biopsy. To initiate cancer therapy, it is necessary to confirm prostate cancer through the biopsy. Surely, there are other screening tests for prostate cancer such as the digital rectal exam (DRE), free prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, and transrectal ultrasound (TRUS). Discuss with your doctor if you can opt to go for only these tests or any other tests instead of the biopsy procedure.

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Medically Reviewed on 11/19/2020


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