A digital rectal exam is an examination of the lower rectum. This test is part of a routine physical exam for men. It can be used to check the size of the prostate and find abnormal changes to the prostate gland. An enlarged prostate can be a sign of infection or prostate cancer. Your doctor may also perform this exam if you have rectal bleeding or a change in your bowel movements.
You may feel mild discomfort during this exam.
There are several benefits to a digital rectal exam, including:
- The exam takes just a few minutes.
- No anesthesia is needed.
- The exam can detect problems with the prostate gland or digestive tract, such as possible cancer or infection.
For the test, your doctor will ask you to:
- Take a deep breath while they insert their finger into your rectum
This exam is performed in your doctor’s office. Your doctor will first look at the outside of your anus for signs of hemorrhoids [hem-uh-roids], enlarged veins in or near the anus. They will also look for tears in the anus, called anal fissures. Then they will put on a glove and insert a lubricated finger into your rectum to feel for abnormalities. The exam usually takes just a few minutes.
You should know the results of the test almost immediately.
If your doctor finds a problem during the exam, they may order more tests.
A digital rectal exam is a quick medical examination of the lower rectum. The test is part of a routine yearly physical exam for men. Your physician may also perform this exam if you have rectal bleeding or signs of an infection. Learn more about digital rectal examinations.