Scientist in Newcastle

What are the different types of prostate biopsy?

A biopsy is a key step in confirming a possible diagnosis of prostate cancer. It involves using thin needles to take small samples of prostate tissue, which are then looked at through a microscope. A biopsy might target specific areas of the prostate (targeted biopsy), or take samples from different areas of the prostate (template biopsy).

At the moment, most biopsies are done using the transrectal ultrasound-guided (TRUS) technique. This is where the needle goes through the wall of the back passage (rectum). However, it is becoming more common for a transperineal (TP) technique to be used. This is where the needle goes through the perineum, which is the skin between the testicles and the back passage.  

An advantage of the TP biopsy is that it can now be performed using local anaesthetic. If there aren’t any problems, you will be able to go home from hospital on the same day.

Having any type of prostate biopsy can cause side effects, including urinary and sexual problems. Talk to your doctor or nurse about the possible side effects before having a biopsy, or call our Specialist Nurses on 0800 074 8383.

What do we think?

We don’t know yet if TP biopsy is better at detecting cancer than a TRUS biopsy, as the research isn’t detailed enough. However, it seems that TP biopsy probably isn’t any worse at detecting prostate cancer than TRUS biopsy. What we do know from the research is that there’s a lower chance of getting an infection from a TP biopsy than a TRUS biopsy. This means that sepsis is much less likely to develop after a TP biopsy.

Because of the reduced risk of sepsis, we think that TP biopsy should be made available as a choice for anyone who needs a prostate biopsy. We are supporting training for nurses so they can learn how to perform TP biopsies in their hospitals. This will make TP biopsies available to more men around the country.