What is Prostate Ultrasound Imaging?
Ultrasound or sonography involves sending sound waves into the body. These sound waves reflect off the internal organs and are recorded by special instruments that create images of anatomic parts. No ionizing radiation (x-ray) is involved in ultrasound imaging. Ultrasound images are captured in real time so they can show movement of internal tissues and organs, such as the flow of blood in arteries and veins.
Prostate ultrasound is used to detect possible disorders within a man’s prostate gland. Ultrasound images can indicate when the prostate is enlarged or when there is an abnormal growth that might be cancer.
What are some common uses of the procedure?
For men, a transrectal ultrasound of the prostate gland may be warranted if a blood test result is elevated or if a nodule is felt by a physician during a routine physical exam or prostate cancer screening exam. An ultrasound exam can also indicate other types of prostate conditions, such as inflammation of the prostate, or it can be used to help diagnose the reasons for a man’s infertility.
How should I prepare for the procedure?
A full bladder helps with visualization of the prostate gland, so you may be asked to drink up to six glasses of water prior to your exam.
What does the equipment look like?
The ultrasound image is immediately visible on a nearby screen that looks much like a computer or television monitor. The radiologist or sonographer watches this screen during the examination and captures representative images for storage. Often, the patient is able to see the screen as well.
How does the procedure work?
The ultrasound transducer functions as both a loudspeaker (to transmit sounds) and a microphone (to record the sounds). When the transducer is inserted into the rectum it directs a stream of inaudible, high-frequency sound waves into the body. As the sound waves echo back from the body’s fluids and tissues, the sensitive microphone in the transducer records the strength and character of the reflected waves.
How is the procedure performed?
When the examination is complete, the patient may be asked to dress and wait while the ultrasound images are reviewed. Often the sonographer or radiologist is able to review the ultrasound images in real time as they are acquired, and the patient can be released immediately.
What will I experience during the procedure?
Who interprets the results and how do I get them?
What are the benefits vs. risks?
- Ultrasound is widely available.
- Ultrasound uses no ionizing radiation.
- Ultrasound can visualize structure, movement and function in the body’s organs and blood vessels.
- For standard diagnostic ultrasound there are no known harmful effects on humans.