Infections associated with prostate biopsy have increased over time, and there is growing evidence of infections that are resistant to the antibiotics used to prevent infection.
Resistant infections after trans-rectal prostate biopsy (TRUS)
About 1-2% of patients who have a TRUS biopsy of the prostate will develop a febrile infection, which can be serious. Antibiotics (usually ciprofloxacin) are used before and after biopsy to keep this infection rate at 1-2%. However, there is increasing evidence that many of us carry bacteria in our gut (and rectum, where the needle is passed through to reach the prostate) that are resistant to ciprofloxacin.
A recent study from the Journal of Urology (Liss et al.) looked at 2673 men from 6 different medical centres undergoing biopsy and discovered cirpofloxacin-resistant bacteria in the rectum in 20.5% of men.
We know that some men are at increased risk of carrying such resistant bacteria (known as ESBL), and these include men who have been treated with ciprofloxacin in the prior six months, and those that have travelled to SE Asia or the Indian subcontinent in the recent past. The bacteria are harmless in the gut, but become dangerous if seeded into the prostate by biopsy.
How can the risk of infection be reduced?
One of the ways to reduce the risk of infection is to consider a transperineal biopsy instead of a transrectal biopsy. In transperineal biopsy, the needles for biopsy are not passed through the rectum, but instead through the skin of the perineum, and the infection risk is greatly reduced. A study from Jeremy Grummet in Melbourne demonstrated a reduction in serious infection, with a greater than 10x reduction in risk compared to transrectal biopsy.
You can read more about this study by following this link to an article by Jeremy Grummet.
Follow this link to read more about transperineal biopsy.