What is an ultrasound prostate scan?
An ultrasound prostate scan, known as transrectal ultrasound (TRUS), is a medical imaging procedure used to assess the prostate gland in men. It involves high-frequency sound waves to create detailed images of the prostate, a walnut-sized gland located just below the bladder.
The value of an ultrasound prostate scan in diagnosing and monitoring prostate-related issues allows the visualisation of the prostate’s size, shape, and texture. This helps with the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of prostate conditions.
Generally, this procedure is well-tolerated and does not involve ionising radiation, making it a safe choice for prostate evaluation.
How does an ultrasound prostate scan work?
During the procedure, a small ultrasound probe that emits high-frequency sound waves is inserted into the rectum, providing a close and clear view of the prostate. The sound waves travel through the rectal wall and into the prostate gland. Special sensors in the probe detect the echoes and send information to a computer, creating real-time images of the prostate. These images will show the size, shape, and texture of the prostate gland and any abnormalities.
Prostate Health The entire procedure is usually quick, well-tolerated, and provides valuable insights into the health of the prostate without the need for ionising radiation.
Benefits of an ultrasound prostate scan
- Early detection
- Real-time imaging
- Guided biopsies
- Minimal discomfort
- Risk assessment
- Customised care
- Convenient and accessible
What conditions can an ultrasound prostate scan diagnose?
An ultrasound prostate scan can be used to diagnose the following conditions:
- Prostate cancer: one of the most common types of cancer, prostate cancer, occurs when cancerous cells develop and grow in the prostate gland.
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH): benign prostatic hyperplasia is a non-cancerous condition characterised by an enlarged prostate.
- Prostatitis: prostatitis is characterised by the swelling and inflammation of the prostate gland.
Ultrasound prostate scans are also used to monitor prostate health, guide biopsies, and assess the risk of prostate conditions.
What results can I expect from an ultrasound prostate scan?
When you undergo an ultrasound prostate scan, you can expect several potential outcomes based on the purpose of the scan and your health situation; these are:
- Normal findings: if the scan reveals no abnormalities in your prostate, it can provide you with reassurance and peace of mind regarding the health of your prostate gland.
- Detection of abnormalities: in some cases, the scan may detect abnormalities such as an enlarged prostate, suspicious areas, or signs of infection or inflammation. This can prompt further evaluation and diagnostic tests to determine the cause and severity of the issue.
- Early cancer detection: for individuals at risk of prostate cancer or with concerning symptoms, the scan can help in the early detection of prostate cancer. Early detection often leads to more effective treatment options and better outcomes.
- Treatment guidance: if you are already diagnosed with a prostate condition, the scan can provide essential information to guide treatment decisions. It helps your urologist plan appropriate interventions or monitor the effectiveness of ongoing treatments.
- Biopsy planning: in cases where a prostate biopsy is necessary, the ultrasound scan helps precisely target the biopsy needles to collect tissue samples from suspicious areas, increasing the accuracy of diagnosis.
After the prostate ultrasound, your urologist will interpret the scan results and discuss them with you, providing insights into your prostate health and guiding any necessary next steps, which may include further tests or treatment options. The specific results will depend on your unique medical history and the reason for the scan.
How many ultrasound prostate scans are needed?
Generally, only one prostate ultrasound scan is needed. Unlike some medical treatments or therapies that may require multiple sessions over time, an ultrasound prostate scan is typically a one-time procedure performed during a single appointment.
The process is relatively quick and non-invasive, taking approximately 15 to 30 minutes. Once the scan is complete, the images are reviewed by your urologist to assess the condition of your prostate.
However, if further procedures or treatments are deemed necessary based on the scan results, your urologist will discuss these options with you during or after the appointment. However, in most cases, a single ultrasound prostate scan is sufficient for diagnostic purposes.
Frequently asked questions
No, there are no known risks or side effects associated with ultrasound prostate scans. They are non-invasive and do not involve radiation or invasive procedures, making them safe and well-tolerated.
Ultrasound prostate scans can help detect abnormalities in the prostate, but they are not typically used as the sole method for diagnosing prostate cancer. Biopsies and additional tests are usually required for a definitive diagnosis.
Yes, you can generally resume normal activities immediately after an ultrasound prostate scan, as it is a non-invasive scan that does not require any recovery time.