The management of rectal bleeding following transrectal prostate biopsy: A review of the current literature

Mark R. Quinlan, Damien M. Bolton, Rowan G. Casey


Introduction: Since the advent of prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-based testing, transrectal ultrasound (TRUS)-guided prostate biopsy has become a standard part of the diagnostic pathway for prostate cancer (PCa). Rectal bleeding is one of the common side effects of this transrectal route. While rectal bleeding is usually mild and self-limiting, it can be life-threatening. In this article, we examine rectal bleeding post TRUS-guided prostate biopsy and explore the literature to evaluate techniques and strategies aimed at preventing and managing this common and important complication.

Methods: A PubMed literature search was carried out using the keywords “transrectal-prostate-biopsy-bleed.” A search of the bibliography of reviewed studies was also conducted. Additionally, papers in non-PubMed-listed journals of which the authors were aware were appraised.

Results: Numerous modifiable risk factors for this bleeding complication exist, particularly anticoagulants/antiplatelets and the number of core biopsies taken. Successfully described corrective measures for such rectal bleeding include tamponade (digital/packs/catheter/tampon/condom), endoscopic sclerotherapy/banding/clipping, radiological embolization, and surgical intervention.

Conclusions: We advocate early consultation with the colorectal/gastroenterology and interventional radiology services and a progressive, stepwise approach to the management of post-biopsy rectal bleeding, starting with resuscitation and conservative tamponade measures, moving to endoscopic hemostasis ± radiological embolization ± transanal surgical methods. Given the infrequent but serious nature of major rectal bleeding after TRUS biopsy, we recommend the establishment of centralized databases or registries forthwith to prospectively capture such data. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive look specifically at the management of post-TRUS biopsy rectal bleeding.

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