First Time User? Sign Up Now
First Time User? Enroll now.
Home > Fitness & Health > Health Library > Prostate Biopsy
A prostate biopsy is a test to remove small samples of prostate tissue to be looked at under a microscope. The tissue samples taken are looked at for cancer cells.
For a transrectal prostate biopsy, an ultrasound probe is inserted into the rectum. Guided by ultrasound, a spring-loaded needle is used to take samples from the prostate through the rectal wall. A transperineal prostate biopsy is less common. This type of biopsy also takes prostate samples, but through a cut made in the perineum, the area between the scrotum and anus.
While ultrasound is often used to guide the sampling, other ways of imaging such as MRI or CT scans may also be used.
A prostate biopsy may be done:
You may need a prostate biopsy if your doctor found something of concern in your lab work or during your exam. A biopsy can help find out if you have prostate cancer. It may also be done for other reasons, such as monitoring the growth of prostate cancer for men on active surveillance.
If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your procedure. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your procedure. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.
In some cases, your doctor may want you to do an enema at home before the test.
Most prostate biopsies are done with local anesthesia. But if you are having general anesthesia, you will need to have someone to take you home, since anesthesia will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own. Some pain medicines can also make it unsafe for you to drive.
Some people have a prostate imaging test, such as an MRI or a CT scan, before their biopsy. The test results are used during the biopsy to select the areas of the prostate to sample.
Before your 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.
You may be given a sedative through a vein (IV) in your arm. The sedative will help you relax and stay still.
If you have a general anesthetic, you will be in a recovery room for a few hours after the biopsy.
This test will take from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on how it's done.
With general anesthesia, you won't feel anything during this procedure. With local anesthesia, you may have some discomfort while numbing medicines are being injected and feel pressure in the rectum while the ultrasound probe is in place. And with local anesthesia, you may still feel some pressure or discomfort as the biopsy needle removes samples from the prostate. Usually about 10 to 12 samples are collected.
A prostate biopsy rarely causes problems with erections. It doesn't affect your fertility.
A prostate biopsy has a slight risk of causing problems such as:
Results are usually ready within 10 days.
The tissue samples look normal under the microscope. There are no signs of infection or cancer.
Cancer cells or signs of infection are found.
There are signs of an abnormal noncancerous enlargement of the prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH).
Normal prostate biopsy results do not rule out cancer. There's a chance that a cancer may be missed since the biopsy takes a small amount of tissue.
If the test finds prostate cancer cells, a grade (Gleason score) will be given. Your doctor will discuss this with you. The Gleason score is a tool for predicting how fast-growing the cancer is.
Current as of:
December 17, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineChristopher G. Wood MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology
Current as of: December 17, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Christopher G. Wood MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.