Digital rectal examination (DRE)

What is being examined with a digital rectal examination?

Examining the prostate and the rectum with the finger is called a digital rectal examination (DRE). An important part of the DRE is the palpation of the prostate. This is done to assess size, shape, consistency, hardness, fluctuation and tenderness on palpation. A complete DRE also includes an assessment of the rectum and the anal canal for bleeding, nodules, haemorrhoids and lacerations of the mucosa.

Palpation of the prostate - easy, quick and painless

The patient lies the lateral position with the legs bent for the digital rectal examination. The physician performs the examination very carefully and applies a sterile lubricant with disinfecting and local anaesthetic properties, e.g. Instillagel®, for this purpose.

DREs are not painful provided that the anal mucosa is not torn and there is no inflammation of the prostate. While palpation does not enable the identification of all changes to the prostate, it does provide the physician with a better orientation concerning potential further procedures.