Many men notice the symptoms of prostate enlargement on their own. In other cases, the condition is detected by a doctor during a routine checkup. Typically, when a doctor notices an enlarged prostate, he refers the patient to a urologist for examination and diagnosis by a specialist. The urologist will use several tests to distinguish the condition of an enlarged prostate, also known as BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia), from other conditions of the urinary tract. He will then direct the patient on the type of care and treatment necessary. Here are some of the most common types of diagnostic procedures for prostate enlargement.
Digital Rectal Examination (DRE)
The first test that most urologists will use is the DRE. Typically, the doctor will put on gloves and insert the gloved fingers into the rectum. The doctor will feel the portions of the prostate next to the rectum and get a general sense of the patient’s condition.
Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA)
This blood test serves to differentiate enlarged prostate from prostate cancer, or simply to rule out the existence of cancer. PSA is a protein produced by the prostate gland and increased levels in the blood are a typical indicator that the patient has prostate cancer. However, the PSA test is a delicate test to interpret and requires the attention of specialized urologists in order to be used effectively.
Prostate Biopsy and Rectal Ultrasound
Since prostate cancer may cause the same symptoms as prostate enlargement, a rectal ultrasound is used together with the PSA test to confirm prostate cancer. In a rectal ultrasound, the doctor will insert a probe into the rectum and the echo patterns of produced sound waves will form an image which is in turn displayed on a screen. The doctor may use the resulting image to direct a biopsy needle and then to collect samples for examination under a microscope.
In addition to ultrasound and biopsy, urologists in Advanced Urology Institute may perform urine flow studies and Cystoscopies in order to get a clearer picture of the condition of an enlarged prostate.