Ultrasound scans

Ultrasound involves the transmission of high-frequency sound waves through the body from a hand-held instrument which is lubricated with jelly. Computer analysis of the echoes produces a picture of the organ on a screen, and this is interpreted by the operator – usually a radiologist.

Ultrasound may be recommended for you if you have: haematuria (blood in the urine), recurrent urinary tract infection, BPH, raised PSA, testicular swelling/pain, deep vein thrombosis, joint/tendon pain or screening for aortic aneurism or carotid artery disease.

The ultrasound scans performed most commonly at The Prostate Centre are:

Bladder ultrasound

This scan can detect tumours and stones, and is also useful in assessing the thickness of the bladder wall – one of the measures which tell us you may have urinary obstruction.

Flow rate

The measurement of urinary flow provides the best indication as to whether or not the urethra (the tube that allows urine to exit from the bladder) is obstructed by an enlarged prostate. The test involves passing urine into a specially designed flow meter, so you need to make sure you have a full bladder for this test. The machine will print out the pattern and velocity of your flow. Immediately afterwards we will usually do a bladder residual scan to measure the amount of urine retained.

Bladder residual ultrasound

It’s important to measure the volume of urine left in the bladder after you pass water, because if you are not emptying it properly this may mean you have an enlarged prostate. After you’ve passed urine into a flow meter (see above), we scan your bladder to see how much urine is left behind. This is known as the residual urine volume.

Ultrasound of the urinary tract

This scan is performed to assess the size and consistency of both kidneys; to look for dilatation or stones in the ureters; and to detect other abnormalities such as gall stones or liver problems. The bladder is also examined as above.

Abdominal ultrasound

Where indicated, this scan is done to look for tumours or cysts in the liver; gallstones; aneurisms (swelling) of the aorta and abnormalities of the spleen.

Transrectal ultrasound

TRUS evaluates the size and texture of the prostate by means of a lubricated probe inserted into the rectum. The radiologist looks for enlargement, signs of inflammation and increase in blood flow, which can all signify benign disease. Changes in texture which might indicate cancer can also be seen, but biopsies (sampling) would usually be required to confirm this diagnosis.

Testicular ultrasound

Abnormalities in the testes can usually be cured if identified in good time. Tumours can be seen in this way as well as the much more common epididymal cysts.

Carotid Doppler ultrasound

This is a non-invasive way of predicting cardiovascular risk or identifying atherosclerosis (hardening of the blood vessels), using ultrasound to obtain images of the arteries in the neck.

Musculo-skeletal ultrasound

This provides pictures of muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. It is used to detect soft-tissue tendon tears, for example in the shoulder or Achilles tendon, and other abnormalities.