Walk-In Doctor Service

Rectal Examination – What Are They For?

A rectal examination is a specific type of physical examination whereby a medical clinical professional inserts a finger (or digit) into your rectum. It is al referred to as a DRE, or Digital Rectal Examination. It allows the examining professional to feel inside your back passage for any abnormalities.

The examination does not normally cause any pain, only perhaps a mild feeling of discomfort. Some people may find a DRE embarrassing, but it should always be borne in mind that this type of examination is purely a matter of routine for all doctors and nurses.

The purpose of a rectal examination

The most common reason for undergoing to rectal examination is when mean are examined for signs of prostate cancer. A DRE may also be performed to diagnose possible cancer in the rectum or lower colon of both men and women.

In terms of prostate cancer, a finger inserted in to the back passage is able to feel the prostate through the back passage lining, to establish if it is enlarged, or whether it has developed and hard, lumpy areas.

A rectal examination may also be performed to discover the causes of any changes to person’s bowel habits. These changes include things like:

  • Bowel (and sometime urinary) incontinence
  • Constipation
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Rectal pain

How a rectal examination is performed

To undergo a rectal examination you will be asked to remove your lower clothing, lie on a couch on your left side, and draw your knees up to your chest. The nurse of GP carrying out the examination will begin by making an inspection of your anus.

The clinician will then wear a glove and lubricate one finger, before inserting it into your bottom. Any pain or discomfort is usually minimal. You may then be asked to squeeze your rectum on the finger. This is to allow the clinician to determine how well your rectal muscles and bowels are working.

The examination takes no more than a few minutes, after which the doctor or nurse will make you aware of the results.

Where to go for a rectal examination

Most people go to their family GPs for a rectal examination. If however you live and/or work in London, for maximum convenience you can use the walk-in services of Broadgate GP Clinic London Wall.