A digital (finger) rectal examination checks for abnormalities of
organs or other structures in the pelvis and lower abdomen. During a digital
rectal exam, a doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger of one
hand into the rectum and may use the other hand to press on the lower abdomen
or pelvic area.
The exam is commonly done to check the prostate gland in men and
the uterus and ovaries in women. The doctor can also feel other
structures during the exam.
A digital rectal exam is routinely done for men as part of a
complete physical exam and for women as part of a regular gynecological exam
(usually done at the time of a Pap test). The exam may also be done to help
identify the cause of symptoms such as rectal bleeding or blood in the stool,
abdominal or pelvic pain, a change in bowel habits, or urinary problems in
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Jimmy Ruiz, MD - Hematology, Oncology