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Bacteremia after Rectal Examination

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The Medical College of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Ann Intern Med. 1978;88(5):658-659. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-88-5-658
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Transient bacteremia occurs after many manipulations or procedures involving trauma to mucosal surfaces with an indigenous microbial flora. Several investigators have studied the frequency of bacteremia after instrumentation of the lower gastrointestinal tract. Bacteremia has been reported in 0 to 9.5% of patients after sigmoidoscopy (1, 2) and 0 to 4% of patients after colonoscopy (3-5).

The present study was undertaken to evaluate the frequency of bacteremia after routine digital rectal examination.

Seventy-four subjects, 51 hospitalized patients (at time of admission) and 23 healthy volunteers (medical and nursing students having routine physical examinations), had rectal examinations by their examining physicians.


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