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Transperineal (template or targeted) biopsy

Your doctor might take small samples of tissue from your prostate to help diagnose prostate cancer. They can do this during a transperineal biopsy.

What is a transperineal biopsy?

This test is a needle biopsy to look for cancer cells in the prostate. Your doctor puts a needle into the prostate through the skin behind the testicles (perineum). They take a number of samples, which are sent to the lab to be looked at under a microscope.

This type of procedure can sometimes find a prostate cancer that has been missed by other types of biopsy.

There are 2 main types of transperineal biopsy a:

  • targeted biopsy - a smaller number of biopsies are taken. A targeted transperineal biopsy is targeted to a specific area of the prostate using MRI scans. It's also known as a fusion biopsy.
  • template biopsy - done under general anaesthetic and many biopsies are taken
Diagram showing a prostate biopsy

Preparing for your biopsy

You have the biopsy under local or general anaesthetic.

Having the biopsy under local anaesthetic means you should be able to eat and drink normally before the test.

Having the biopsy under general anaesthetic means that you won’t be able to eat or drink for a number of hours beforehand. You usually stop eating at least 6 hours before the biopsy and stop drinking at least 4 hours beforehand. Your team will give you instructions.

Take your usual medicines as normal, unless you have been told otherwise. If you take warfarin to thin your blood, you should stop this before your biopsy. Your doctor will tell you when to stop taking it.

You have antibiotics to stop infection developing after the biopsy. You have them before the biopsy and for a few days afterwards.

You might have a tube (catheter) into your bladder to drain urine.

Your doctor will ask you to sign a consent form once you have all the information about the procedure.

Template biopsy

Having your biopsy under general anaesthetic means you're fully asleep during the whole procedure. You won’t feel or hear anything. You might feel a bit drowsy or confused when you wake up.

If you have your biopsy under local anaesthetic the doctor injects anaesthetic into the perineum. This numbs the area.

The doctor puts a template (or grid) with lots of holes over your perineum. They put an ultrasound probe into your back passage to show the prostate gland. They use the ultrasound to guide a biopsy needle through the template and into the prostate. They might take between 30 to 50 samples.

Targeted biopsy

For a targeted biopsy your doctor puts an ultrasound probe into your back passage to show the prostate gland. They then use the information from your MRI scan to take biopsies from abnormal areas of your prostate gland. They take fewer samples than a template biopsy. 

After the biopsy

You can normally go home the same day.

You need to be in hospital for at least a few hours after a general anaesthetic, until you have fully recovered. This normally means until you have had something to eat and drink and passed wee (urine) normally. The team looking after you make sure any pain is under control before you go.

You can’t drive home if you have had a general anaesthetic because it takes some time to recover.

It is very important to drink a lot of fluids for the next 24 hours.

Side effects

Your prostate gland will bleed. And there is a risk of urine infection. Drinking plenty of fluid flushes out the blood and helps to stop you getting any infection. You will see blood in your urine, back passage and semen for a few weeks, but it won’t harm you.

Phone your doctor straight away or go to the accident and emergency department (A&E) if you have signs of infection, such as:

  • a high temperature
  • a lot of difficulty passing urine
  • a need to pass urine very often
  • a lot of blood in your urine or poo
  • shivering or shaking

You need to have antibiotics straight away if you have a urine infection.

Possible risks

This test is a safe procedure but there are some possible risks.

These are:

  • ongoing bleeding
  • infection
  • pain
  • not getting enough biopsy samples

Your doctor or nurse explain these when you sign your consent form. Ask them any questions you have about the possible risks.

Getting results

The results take about 2 weeks.

Waiting for test results or for further tests can be a very worrying time. You might have contact details for a specialist nurse and you can contact them for information if you need to. It might help to talk to a close friend or relative about how you feel.

You can also contact the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040. The lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Information and help

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