What is Prostate MRI?
MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging, represents one of the greatest advances of modern medicine. This powerful yet non-invasive imaging procedure has no radiation exposure to the patient. MRI is used to see internal structures and function in the human body and all of its organs. MRI shows greater detail among soft tissues than computed tomography (CT) scans and has many advanced applications in musculoskeletal, neurological and oncological (cancer) imaging.
High-resolution prostate MRI imaging utilizes advanced computer-assisted detection (CAD) hardware and software in conjunction with high-field MRI to analyze the kinetics of blood flow through the prostate. This results in higher sensitivity for detection of abnormal sites of blood flow that may represent the sites of cancer within the prostate gland. The superior resolution offered by MRI can enable physicians to determine cancer stage, conclude whether the cancer is contained within the gland or has spread, and help determine the most appropriate treatment path for the patient.
Your physician, in conjunction with the radiologists of Atlantic Medical Imaging, may choose to add prostate MRI to the imaging procedures used to diagnose, rule out, or follow the treatment of prostate cancer. Be assured that the technology and expertise used at AMI is of the highest quality and truly state-of-the-art. This technology not only provides increased accuracy, but also affords increased comfort for the patient during the exam.
Your doctor might request an MRI of the prostate gland for a number of reasons:
MRI is generally requested because it provides more detailed images of the prostate gland than other radiological tests, such as computed tomography (CT) or ultrasound.
What should I expect during the exam?
As with most MRI exams, prostate MRI is completely non-invasive and painless. With the help of an MRI technologist, you will be positioned on a padded table, a padded coil will be placed across the top of your abdomen and you will be moved slowly into the MRI machine, feet first. Your head will be out of the magnet. You will have a small IV placed into a vein in either your arm or hand. At a specific time during the exam, the contrast material will be injected into your arm to further enhance the prostate MRI images.
For your comfort you will be given ear plugs during the exam. You will remain in contact with the technologist during the entire exam. Once the exam is complete you will be brought out of the magnet and assisted off the table by the technologist. You can resume your normal activities. Your images will be sent to the computer enhanced analysis system for a radiologist to interpret and the written report of your results will be sent to your referring physician.
Breast MRI is a non-invasive procedure that radiologists can use to determine what the inside of the breast looks like. No radioactivity is involved. The test may be used to distinguish between benign (not cancer) and malignant lesions. Breast MRI is an excellent problem solving technology and is often used to investigate breast concerns first detected with mammography, physical exam, or other imaging exams.
The Breast MRI should be scheduled in the middle of your menstrual cycle (between the 7th and 14th day); hormone therapy must be discontinued 3 weeks prior to the exam; and/or 6-8 weeks after lumpectomy.
Organs of the chest, abdomen and pelvis; including the lungs, liver, kidney, spleen, pancreas, abdominal vessels, uterus, ovaries and prostate gland-can be examined in high detail with MRI, enabling the diagnosis and evaluation of tumors and functional disorders. MRI is increasing in popularity as a problem-solving tool in the evaluation of breast disease and the early detection of breast cancer. Because no radiation exposure is involved, MRI is often the preferred diagnostic tool for examination of the male and female reproductive systems, pelvis and hips, and the bladder.
Because MRI provides such clear pictures of soft tissue structures, it is usually the best choice for examination of the body's major joints, the spine, and soft tissues of the extremities. MRI is widely used to diagnose disc disease and sports-related injuries, as well as work-related disorders and repetitive motion injuries. Using MRI images, physicians can locate and identify the cause of pain, swelling, or bleeding in the tissues in and around the joints and bones. The images allow the physician to clearly see small tears and injuries to tendons, ligaments, muscles, and cartilage and fractures that cannot be seen on routine x-rays. In addition, MRI images can give physicians a clear picture of degenerative disorders such as arthritis, deterioration of joint surfaces, and disc herniations. Neurosurgeons often use MRI to evaluate the integrity of the spinal cord after trauma. Finally, MRI is also useful for the diagnosis and characterization of infections (e.g. osteomyelitis) and tumors (e.g. metastases) involving bones, soft tissues and joints.
MRI is the most sensitive exam for brain tumors, strokes, and certain chronic disorders of the nervous system such as multiple sclerosis. In addition, it is a useful means of documenting brain abnormalities in patients with dementia, and it is commonly used for patients with disease of the pituitary gland. MRI can detect tiny areas of tissue abnormality in patients with disease of the eyes or the inner ear.
Many patients with arterial disease are now treated in outpatient radiology centers rather than undergoing surgery in an operating room. MRA is a very useful way to detect problems with blood vessels and is an aid in determining how to best treat those problems. The carotid arteries in the neck, which are the blood vessels that carry blood to the brain, are a common site of atherosclerosis, which may severely narrow or block off an artery, reducing blood flow to the brain and even causing a stroke. If an ultrasound study shows that such disease is present, many surgeons will now do the necessary operation after confirmation by MRA, dispensing with the need for catheter angiography. MRA has also found wide use in evaluating patients for disease in the arteries of the brain, so that only those with positive findings will need to have a more invasive catheter study. MRA also is used to detect disease in the aorta and in blood vessels supplying the kidneys, lungs and legs. Patients with a family history of aneurysm, a ballooning out of a segment of the vessel wall, can be screened by MRA to detect an aneurysm that has not produced symptoms. If an aneurysm is found, it may be treated surgically, possibly avoiding serious or fatal bleeding.