Your prostate gland is located at the base of your urinary bladder. It is normally the size of a walnut and surrounds the tube (urethra) through which you pass your urine. It produces the liquid (semen) part of your ejaculate which is added to your sperm during sex.
The prostate can be examined in two ways. A doctor can actually feel the rear surface of the prostate gland during a rectal exam because it is located just in front of the rectum. Some abnormalities of the gland will cause an elevated PSA (prostatic specific antigen) blood test. Abnormalities found as a result of these exams may indicate prostate cancer, benign (non-cancerous) tumors, infection or even the normal effects of getting older. In some cases, a biopsy is necessary to be sure of the exact problem.
The biopsy enables a urologist to obtain small samples of prostate tissue which are sent to a laboratory. The tissue will be carefully examined under a microscope by a specialty physician (pathologist), who will report on whether the prostate cells appear abnormal, if cancer is present, and to some extent, how dangerous the problems appears. This knowledge is essential in order for the pysician to determine if further treatment is recommended and if so, what treatment options would likely be most successful.
A prostate biopsy can be safely done in the urologist's office. The biopsy is done by inserting an ultrasound probe into the rectum. A needle is then inserted through the probe to obtain the tissue. Ultrasound is used to enable accurate placement of the needle. A tiny bit of the gland tissue is withdrawn through the needle and sent to the laboratory for diagnosing. One or more biopsies from different parts of the gland may be taken in this way. You will remain awake during the biopsy. Though you may experience mild discomfort, it is unusual for men to experience severe pain during a biopsy procedure.
Occasionally, men may experience mild discomfort at the site of the biopsy after the procedure. It usually does not last long and can be treated with usual pain medication. Some men will notice blood in their urine, semen or bowel movements after a prostate biopsy, although serious bleeding is rare. Having a bowel movement after the procedure is not dangerous and should not be painful. Certainly you should contact your doctor if you experience an elevated temperature, severe pain, severe bleeding or the passage of blood clots, or other unexpected symptoms.
There is usually no need to change your normal activities follwoing a biopsy procedure.