Applications of transrectal ultrasound in prostate cancer

Br J Radiol. 2012 Nov;85 Spec No 1(Spec Iss 1):S3-17. doi: 10.1259/bjr/56357549. Epub 2012 Jul 27.


Transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) was first developed in the 1970s. TRUS-guided biopsy, under local anaesthetic and prophylactic antibiotics, is now the most widely accepted method to diagnose prostate cancer. However, the sensitivity and specificity of greyscale TRUS in the detection of prostate cancer is low. Prostate cancer most commonly appears as a hypoechoic focal lesion in the peripheral zone on TRUS but the appearances are variable with considerable overlap with benign lesions. Because of the low accuracy of greyscale TRUS, TRUS-guided biopsies have become established in the acquisition of systematic biopsies from standard locations. The number of systematic biopsies has increased over the years, with 10-12 cores currently accepted as the minimum standard. This article describes the technique of TRUS and biopsy and its complications. Novel modalities including contrast-enhanced modes and elastography as well as fusion techniques for increasing the sensitivity of TRUS-guided prostate-targeted biopsies are discussed along with their role in the diagnosis and management of prostate cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Rectum / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ultrasonography / methods*