How is a digital rectal exam performed to evaluate hemorrhoids?

Updated: Sep 24, 2019
  • Author: Kyle R Perry, MD; Chief Editor: John Geibel, MD, DSc, MSc, AGAF  more...
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Answer

The preferred position for the digital rectal examination is the left lateral decubitus with the patient's knees flexed toward the chest. Topical anesthetics (eg, 20% benzocaine or 5% lidocaine ointment) may help to reduce any discomfort caused by examination.

Inspect and examine the entire perianal area. Warn the patient before any probing or poking. Because patient apprehension is great before any anal examination, go to great lengths to reassure the patient. Gentle spreading of the buttocks allows easy visualization of most of the anoderm; this includes the distal anal canal. Anal fissures and perianal dermatitis (pruritus ani) are easily visible without internal probing. Note the location and size of skin tags and the presence of thromboses. Normal corrugation of the anoderm and a normal anal wink with stimulation confirms intact sensation.


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