Rectal Exams Still Important – Sorry

Most GPs of a certain vintage would have heard the old adage “if you don’t put your finger in, you put your foot in.”

It refers of course to the digital rectal examination and its importance as part of a thorough physical examination especially when symptoms indicate some potential pathology in that area.

However it would be fair to say that most doctors, let alone patients are not particularly enthusiastic about this particular test. Indeed you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief when the authoritative guidelines suggested regular DRE was not useful as a means of screening for prostate cancer.

The downside of this change in recommendation and general avoidance behaviour is that one can become deskilled in this examination, potentially missing an opportunity to diagnose a variety of conditions from prostate abnormalities to cancer.

In the latest MJA, Dr Christopher Pokorny from the South Western Sydney Medical School at UNSW gives a synopsis of indications for DRE and a ...


Pokorny CS. Digital rectal examination: indications and technique. Med J Aust 2017 Aug 21; 207(4): 147-8. DOI: 10.5694/mja17.00373

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