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Digital Rectal Examination

Background

A digital rectal examination affords access to several key structures (see the image below) and enables an observant clinician to identify several disease processes pertaining to the rectum, the anus, the prostate, the seminal vesicles, the bladder, and the perineum. In females, it can be performed in conjunction with a pelvic examination. Before the advent of serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing in 1986, the digital rectal examination was the sole method of screening men for prostate cancer.

A sagittal midline view of the male pelvic anatomy

A sagittal midline view of the male pelvic anatomy that may be examined with a digital rectal examination in relation to all surrounding structures.

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