How a Prostate Exam is
The digital rectal examination (DRE, Latin
palpatio per anum or PPA) is a relatively simple procedure. The patient is
placed in a position where the anus is accessible and relaxed (lying on the
side, squatting on the examination table, bent over the examination table, etc).
The physician inserts a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum through the
anus and palpates the insides for approximately 60 seconds.
The DRE is inadequate as a screening tool for colorectal cancer because it
examines less than 10% of the colorectal mucosa; colonoscopy is preferred.
However, it's an important part of a general examination, as many tumors or
other diseases are made manifest in the distal part of the rectum.
This examination may be used for the diagnosis of prostatic disorders, notably
tumors and benign prostatic hyperplasia.