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J Urol. 2001 Sep;166(3):856-60.

Safety and morbidity of first and repeat transrectal ultrasound guided prostate needle biopsies: results of a prospective European prostate cancer detection study.

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  • 1Department of Urology, University Hospital of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.



We prospectively evaluate the safety, morbidity and complication rates for first and repeat transrectal ultrasound guided prostate needle biopsies.


In this prospective European Prostate Cancer Detection Study 1,051 men, with total prostate specific antigen between 4 and 10 ng./ml., underwent transrectal ultrasound guided sextant biopsy plus 2 additional transition zone biopsies. Biopsy samples were also obtained from suspicious areas identified during transrectal ultrasound and digital rectal examination. All 820 patients with biopsy samples negative for prostate cancer underwent re-biopsy after 6 weeks. Immediate and delayed (range 1 to 7 days) morbidity, patient satisfaction and complication rates were recorded.


Of the 1,051 subjects the initial biopsy was positive for prostate cancer in 231 and negative, including benign prostatic hyperplasia or benign tissue, in 820. Of these 820 patients prostate cancer was detected in 10% (83) on re-biopsy. Minor or no discomfort was observed in 92% and 89% of patients at first and re-biopsy, respectively (p = 0.29). Immediate morbidity was minor and included rectal bleeding (2.1% versus 2.4%, p = 0.13), mild hematuria (62% versus 57%, p = 0.06), severe hematuria (0.7% versus 0.5%, p = 0.09) and moderate to severe vasovagal episodes (2.8% versus 1.4%, respectively, p = 0.03). Delayed morbidity of first and re-biopsy was comprised of fever (2.9% versus 2.3%, p = 0.08), hematospermia (9.8% versus 10.2%, p = 0.1), recurrent mild hematuria (15.9% versus 16.6%, p = 0.06), persistent dysuria (7.2% versus 6.8%, p = 0.12) and urinary tract infection (10.9% versus 11.3%, respectively, p = 0.07). Major complications were rare and included urosepsis (0.1% versus 0%) and rectal bleeding that required intervention (0% versus 0.1%, respectively). Furthermore, an age dependent pattern of pain apprehension during biopsy was observed with the highest scores in patients younger than 60 years.


Transrectal ultrasound guided biopsy is generally well tolerated with minor morbidity only rarely requiring treatment. Re-biopsy can be performed 6 weeks later with no significant difference in pain or morbidity. Patients younger than 60 years should be counseled in regard to a higher level of discomfort, and local and topical anesthesia if desired.

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