Digital rectal examination (DRE) is an important component of the physical examination. It is essential when someone presents with rectal bleeding, acute abdominopelvic pain (to check for pelvic peritoneal irritation) or other symptoms suggestive of anorectal or prostatic pathology (Box 1). Indeed, in days gone by, some physicians lived by the maxim: “if you don’t put your finger in, you put your foot in it” (attributed to Hamilton Bailey, English surgeon, 1894–1961).
Publication of your online response is subject to the Medical Journal of Australia's editorial discretion. You will be notified by email within five working days should your response be accepted.