The use of transrectal ultrasonography in prostatic cancer has received considerable attention recently, and it has been surrounded by substantial controversy. In this issue of THE JOURNAL, the role of transrectal ultrasonography in clinical practice has been addressed by surveying experts who constitute a specialty subgroup of the Diagnostic and Therapeutic Technology Assessment (DATTA) panel of the American Medical Association.1 Their consensus is that transrectal sonography is a safe method for evaluating the prostate gland, but most of its uses are still investigational.
See also p 2757.
The most controversial role for this modality is to screen for prostate cancer. The DATTA report indicates that both the sensitivity and specificity of transrectal ultrasound are too low for it to be used as a screening test at this time. Recently, however, the controversy has increased as investigators have shown that transrectal ultrasonography can detect nonpalpable, potentially curable tumors.2,3 At
Chodak GW. Transrectal Ultrasonography: Is It Ready for Routine Use?. JAMA. 1988;259(18):2744-2745. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03720180070037