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Digital rectal examination - Definition


The digital rectal examination is a medical examination consisting of physically investigating the inner lining of the anus and rectum. It is performed by inserting a finger, the index, into the anus, using some form of protection, such as a latex finger cot, as well as prior-application of Vaseline or other lubricant. The patient can either be positioned in the knee-chest position bent over the examination table or on his back with knees bent up to the chest. A digital rectal exam is particularly frequently useful for analyzing the prostate in men, in terms of its consistency, size, and appearance. The exam can, however, also prove useful in both men and women for investigating certain conditions such as cancers located low in the rectum or in the anal canal, or internal hemorrhoids. It is also performed in preparation for removing a fecal impaction, a blockage caused by hard feces.