Prostate Biopsy Procedure

What is the prostate?
 
The prostate is a small, walnut shaped gland which is below the bladder and surrounds the urethra (the tube which moves urine from the bladder to the penis for urination). The prostate is responsible for producing seminal fluid, which transports, nourishes, and protects sperm. The prostate is also responsible for releasing prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein that circulates in the blood, and which levels can be used for detecting prostate cancer.
 
Why is a prostate biopsy done?
 
A prostate biopsy may be done after less invasive procedures, a digital rectal exam (DRE), a PSA blood test, or a transrectal ultrasound (TRUS). If these tests indicate any risk of prostate cancer, a prostate biopsy may be done to give a snapshot of the overall condition of the prostate, including any sign of disease or cancer.
 
How is a prostate biopsy done?
 
A prostate biopsy removes small samples of prostate tissue for analysis in a lab. During the procedure, a fine core needle is used to collect samples from the prostate gland. This procedure is normally performed by a physician who specializes in the urinary system, a urologist. The most common method for biopsy is the transrectal method, where the procedure is done through the rectum. Additional methods include the perineal method, which is through the skin between the rectum and scrotum, and the transurotheal method, which is done through the urethra.
 
What is done with the prostate biopsy?
 
After the biopsy, your doctor sends the prostate samples to a laboratory for analysis. The samples are cut microns thick, fixed to a slide, and stained to bring out any cells. Special stains known as immunohistochemistry stains may be used to distinguish any abnormal or cancerous cells in the sample.
 
Are there any risks of a prostate biopsy?
 
Common risks of a prostate biopsy include bruising or discomfort, prolonged bleeding at the biopsy site, infection, and difficulty urinating. Discuss the risks with your physician prior to the procedure.