What is a transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) for prostate cancer?

Marc B. Garnick, MD
Hematology & Oncology
Transrectal ultrasonography (TRUS) is a way of creating an image of the prostate gland using sound waves. In conventional ultrasound procedures, a probe placed against the skin sends painless, ultra-high-frequency sound waves into the body. As the waves strike internal organs, they produce echo patterns that a computer converts into images (sonograms) on a video screen.

During TRUS, the doctor places a probe, or ultrasound transducer, into the rectum. Painless sound waves scan the prostate gland in two planes. The resulting pictures often serve as a guide for a biopsy of the prostate, helping to delineate the gland's anatomy and pinpoint any suspicious areas. Doctors may also use TRUS when they suspect prostate cancer based on an abnormal DRE or an elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA)- proteins made by cells in the prostate. TRUS is costly and highly inaccurate in distinguishing normal from abnormal prostate tissue, so it's not recommended for routine screening.

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