Digital Rectal Examination Periprocedural Care

Updated: Jul 06, 2022
  • Author: Adam Warren Ylitalo, DO, FACOS, FACS; Chief Editor: Kurt E Roberts, MD  more...
  • Print
Periprocedural Care

Patient Preparation


No anesthesia is needed, although in some patients, it may be easier to perform digital rectal examination concomitantly with other procedures that require general or intravenous sedation. Empirically, patients seem to tolerate procedures without anesthesia best when they are fully informed about expectations and are aware of exactly what is being done and when.


Multiple positions may be used to accomplish a digital rectal examination. The easiest for the examiner is to have the patient tuck the knees up to the chest, either in the dorsal lithotomy position or the lateral recumbent position.

However, the traditional practice in the office-visit setting is to have the patient bend over a table at the waist with the knees slightly flexed, the feet shoulder-width apart, the toes pointed inward, the waist within inches of the table edge, and the forearms resting on the table. The patient should be made to feel as comfortable as possible; to this end, he or she should be afforded privacy and security in a relaxed environment.