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Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men and second only to lung cancer as the leading cause of cancer-related death.  Most prostate cancers cause no early detectable symptoms. Diagnosis is typically made by biopsy performed on patients who are felt to be at increased risk based on blood work results, physical exam, and medical history.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is currently the best non-invasive tool for imaging the prostate because of its ability to distinguish prostate tissue structure with much higher detail than other types of imaging. The scan may identify areas of the prostate felt to be at increased risk of cancer and be used to guide biopsies to these areas. Your doctor may request a prostate MRI in a number of situations the most common of which are:

  • Elevated PSA or Abnormal Rectal Exam:  Either prior to a biopsy or after a negative biopsy. Your urologist may use the MRI images during a biopsy to specifically target suspicious areas if any are seen on the scan.  The MRI images from your scan will be labeled by one of our radiologists and combined with ultrasound images obtained by your urologist during the biopsy with a technique referred to as Fusion Biopsy.

  • Patients diagnosed with prostate cancer: Multiple reasons including patients on active surveillance to assess for areas of potential progression and/or guide follow up biopsy, to stage the local extent of cancer, and to plan for radiation treatments.

What you need to know about your Prostate MRI procedure:


  • There is no special preparation prior to a Prostate MRI.

  • If possible use the bathroom prior to the scan to empty bladder and bowels.

  • Prior to scanning you will be asked a series of safety questions to determine if you have any items which may prevent you from having an MRI such as certain metal, magnetically or electronically implanted devices, pacemakers, and brain aneurysm clips. If you have a device and carry a card for the device please bring it with you. 

  • If required you should have had kidney function screening blood work through your doctor to determine if you are able to receive IV gadolinium contrast material.

  • You will be asked to remove all jewelry and change into a gown.

  • If you are to receive contrast material a small IV will be inserted into a vein in the arm for injection during the exam. 

  • During the scan you will lie on the scanner bed and be able to speak with technologist performing the study.

  • The scan will take approximately 45 minutes. Scans only for radiation treatment planning will usually be shorter.

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