What to expect with a transrectal ultrasound

July 21, 2024


When you think of an ultrasound, thoughts of expecting moms may initially come to mind, but it can be a useful tool for us at Alabama Colon and Rectal Institute as well. We use transrectal ultrasounds, also called TRUS, to create images of the rectum, its wall, and the surrounding tissues. 

The process involves producing images through sound waves that travel through body tissue to create an accurate picture of the human tissue we are concerned about. 

Why you might need a transrectal ultrasound

Transrectal ultrasounds serve one purpose for us, which is to get images of the rectum. However, we are able to use the information we gather from this procedure to help identify and even begin treatment for several medical issues. The images we collect can help us identify both minor and life-threatening medical conditions. 

The main uses for transrectal ultrasound include staging for rectal cancer and the evaluation of anal sphincter muscle complex in cases of incontinence. We perform the procedure on both men and women.

What to expect if you are having a transrectal ultrasound 

This simple outpatient procedure may take as little as 15 minutes. Sometimes it can take a little longer, possibly around 30 minutes. You may expect to undergo an enema to ensure the colon is clean as well as ensuring the bladder is empty before the procedure. There are also certain medication restrictions you must adhere to before the procedure. Your doctor will go over this with you during your pre-procedure care. 

When it’s time for the procedure, you will put on a gown, and we will help you onto your side and to bring your knees up close to your chest. Next, we will insert the ultrasound probe into the rectum. We then facilitate directing a high-frequency soundwave at involved tissues to help us find any abnormalities and analyze them. Most of the time, it is not very uncomfortable, but sedation is offered in many cases.  

Side effects from a transrectal ultrasound tend to be mild and rare but can result in some minor discomfort. This might include rectal bleeding and pain or tenderness. 

After your procedure, you will be able to get dressed. Then you may wait a few minutes while we analyze the ultrasound images further. If we find any abnormalities, we will discuss this with you and decide if further testing is needed. 

Transrectal ultrasounds are nothing to be embarrassed about

As with colonoscopies, transrectal ultrasounds do involve a private area of your body. This does sometimes make people nervous or fearful about the procedure. We understand that having a private area of your body exposed is uncomfortable for many, but we ask that you remember that we complete these types of procedures daily. It is truly no big deal to us. We make every effort to protect your modesty by keeping you covered until the last minute. We only expose what we absolutely have to see. Then, we focus on what’s on the inside, not what’s on the outside. 

For questions about transrectal ultrasounds, including anything about preparation, what happens during the procedure, and what happens after, contact us at Alabama Colon & Rectal Institute.

Alabama Colon & Rectal Institute specializes in diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus and offers services, such as transrectal ultrasounds

Alabama Colon & Rectal Institute has been in practice since 1990 as a free-standing, private practice located in downtown Birmingham, Alabama. We are known for our efficiency and patient care, in a more relaxed office-based setting. Our doctors are known regionally for their expertise and are active in teaching surgical residents and other physicians. Check out our website for more information, or give us a call to make an appointment at (205) 458-5000, or email us at [email protected].  

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