What Is a Prostate Biopsy Procedure?

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A prostate biopsy is a procedure in which prostate gland tissue samples are obtained, states Johns Hopkins Medicine. This is done either by using a special biopsy needle or through surgery in order to determine whether cancer or other abnormal cells are present.

A prostate biopsy may be done following a blood test indicating a high level of the prostate-specific antigen or if a digital rectal examination finds an abnormal prostate or lump, says WebMD. The procedure may vary depending on a patient’s condition or doctor practices, but it generally follows one of three processes, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. The processes are the transrectal method, transurethral method and perineal method.

The transrectal method involves passing the biopsy needle through the wall of the rectum and is the most common prostate biopsy procedure, notes Mayo Clinic. An enema may need to be done before this method is performed, states WebMD.

The transurethral method involves collecting a tissue sample through the tip of the penis by passing a long tube, equipped with a camera, through the urethra in order to access the prostate, explains Mayo Clinic. During a pereneal biopsy procedure, a small cut is made in the area of skin between the scrotum and anus, and a biopsy needle is inserted into the cut to obtain a sample of prostate tissue, notes Mayo Clinic.