Systematic review of complications of prostate biopsy

Eur Urol. 2013 Dec;64(6):876-92. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2013.05.049. Epub 2013 Jun 4.


Context: Prostate biopsy is commonly performed for cancer detection and management. The benefits and risks of prostate biopsy are germane to ongoing debates about prostate cancer screening and treatment.

Objective: To perform a systematic review of complications from prostate biopsy.

Evidence acquisition: A literature search was performed using PubMed and Embase, supplemented with additional references. Articles were reviewed for data on the following complications: hematuria, rectal bleeding, hematospermia, infection, pain, lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), urinary retention, erectile dysfunction, and mortality.

Evidence synthesis: After biopsy, hematuria and hematospermia are common but typically mild and self-limiting. Severe rectal bleeding is uncommon. Despite antimicrobial prophylaxis, infectious complications are increasing over time and are the most common reason for hospitalization after biopsy. Pain may occur at several stages of prostate biopsy and can be mitigated by anesthetic agents and anxiety-reduction techniques. Up to 25% of men have transient LUTS after biopsy, and <2% have frank urinary retention, with slightly higher rates reported after transperineal template biopsy. Biopsy-related mortality is rare.

Conclusions: Preparation for biopsy should include antimicrobial prophylaxis and pain management. Prostate biopsy is frequently associated with minor bleeding and urinary symptoms that usually do not require intervention. Infectious complications can be serious, requiring prompt management and continued work into preventative strategies.

Keywords: Biopsy; Bleeding; Complications; Infection; Mortality; Prostate.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Infections / etiology
  • Biopsy, Needle / adverse effects*
  • Erectile Dysfunction / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain / etiology
  • Prostate / pathology*