A comprehensive review of the literature, the findings of which showed ‘compelling’ consistency: digital rectal examination (DRE) as a screening test had sensitivities ranging from 0% to 50%, had consistently high false-positive and false-negative rates, and did not improve the predictive value of the other components of a typical trauma examination.
Based on case reports of five patients, the authors suggest DRE may be of value during trauma evaluation in the following settings: (1) patients with evidence of penetrating trauma in the vicinity of the rectum, (2) cases in which the presence of neurologic injury is neither completely supported nor refuted by the clinical ﬁndings, and (3) before pharmacologic paralysis. A selective approach is therefore recommended. Some good news for your patients if this will persuade you to discard another piece of longstanding dogma perpetuated in basic trauma teaching.
Should the digital rectal examination be a part of the trauma secondary survey?
Ann Emerg Med. 2009 Feb;53(2):208-12