Effects of rectal examination, prostatic massage, ultrasonography and needle biopsy on serum prostate specific antigen levels

J. J.J. Yuan, D. E. Coplen, J. A. Petros, R. S. Figenshau, T. L. Ratliff, D. S. Smith, W. J. Catalona

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171 Scopus citations


Measurement of serum prostate specific antigen (PSA) is commonly used to evaluate the prostate gland in a variety of clinical settings. We examined the effects of prostatic manipulations, including digital rectal examination, prostate massage, transrectal ultrasonography and transrectal needle biopsy, on serum PSA levels in 199 men. We detected no clinically significant difference between serum PSA levels obtained immediately before and at 5 or 90 minutes after rectal examination in 43 men. We observed falsely increased PSA levels (to greater than 4 ng./ml., Tandem-R) in 1 of 17 men (6%) following prostatic massage and in 3 of 27 men (11%) following ultrasonography. Transrectal needle biopsy caused an immediate increase in serum PSA in 92 of 100 men. In 29 of these 92 men (32%) when followed weekly serum PSA levels did not return to baseline as expected according to the published serum PSA half-life of 2 to 3 days. Biopsies taking 3 or fewer cores (7 patients) resulted in a smaller increase in serum PSA (mean 1.63 ± 1.12 times the baseline level versus 6.24 ± 1.10 times baseline, p <0.03) and a proportionally shorter duration of PSA elevation (mean 1.43 ± 0.48 weeks versus 2.13 ± 0.14 weeks, p = 0.20) than those taking 4 or more cores (93 patients). Prostate size and the presence of cancer had no influence on the duration of PSA elevation following biopsy. We conclude that digital rectal examination, prostatic massage and ultrasonography have minimal effects on serum PSA levels in most patients. However, prostatic needle biopsy usually causes marked elevations of serum PSA levels with a persistent PSA leak into the blood stream lasting longer than expected from the serum half-life of PSA in approximately 25% of the patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)810-814
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number3 II
StatePublished - 1992


  • antigens, differentiation
  • biopsy, needle
  • massage
  • prostate
  • ultrasonic diagnosis


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