Digital Rectal Examination

A digital (finger) rectal examination checks for abnormalities of organs or other structures in the pelvis and lower abdomen. During a digital rectal examination, a doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger of one hand into the rectum and may use the other hand to press on the lower abdomen or pelvic area.

The examination is commonly done to check the prostate gland in men and the uterus and ovaries in women. The doctor can also feel other structures during the examination.

A digital rectal examination is routinely done for men as part of a complete physical examination and for women as part of a regular gynecological examination (usually done at the time of a Pap test). The examination may also be done to help identify the cause of symptoms such as rectal bleeding or blood in the stool, abdominal or pelvic pain, a change in bowel habits, or urinary problems in men.

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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