What is an MRI scan?
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses a very powerful magnetic field along with Radiofrequency (RF) Pulses to obtain high-resolution images with excellent soft tissue contrast. MRI does not use ionising radiation such as CT scans or X-rays.
The Purpose of Prostate MRI
The prostate gland is a soft tissue structure about the size and shape of a walnut. It is located deep inside the pelvis behind the bladder and in front of the rectum.
A prostate MRI is performed to:
- Determine if there is any evidence of prostatic cancer in conjunction with a high or elevating prostate specific antigen (PSA) level (measured via a blood test) or through other suspicious findings.
- Assess the extent of biopsy proven prostate cancer to see whether it is contained within the prostate gland or whether it has spread to surrounding areas. This may help with the management of treatment and related decisions.
- Identify areas of prostate cancer recurrence after treatment.
- Look for prostatic cancer spread to lymph nodes and other surrounding organs.
Booking a Prostate MRI
When you organise your appointment for your MRI scan our receptionists will ask you some safety questions to ensure it is safe for you to enter the MRI environment.
Some medical implants may cause injury if they are exposed to the MRI environment. These include, but are not restricted to, certain pacemakers, ICD’s, neurostimulators, ear implants, brain aneurysm clips and implanted drug infusion pumps. It should be noted that some of the implants listed above may still be suitable for MRI.
Always inform our staff of any previous surgery that you have had so that we can determine if MRI is the right choice of imaging for you.
Please inform our receptionists if you have had any incident of a metallic foreign body entering your eyes (such as from welding or grinding), even if it was many years ago. We may have to organise x-rays of your eyes to ensure that no metal remains.
If you have any history of diabetes, kidney or liver disease, high blood pressure or if you are over 60 years of age we will also require a recent blood result to assess your kidney function in order to ensure that it is safe for you to be administered with MRI intravenous contrast. If you have not had a recent blood test that is suitable for us to assess your kidney function, (especially an eGFR) our reception staff will arrange one for you prior to your MRI scan.
Please also tell our receptionists if you require sedation for your MRI scan.
Preparation for Prostate MRI
In order to improve the diagnostic quality of your MRI scan, we will be asking you to follow certain preparation steps in the lead up to your scan.
Since the bowel is located immediately adjacent to the prostate gland, any faecal material or bowel gas can affect the quality of the images. Our reception staff will provide you with details of what will be required prior to your appointment, and the preparation will entail a small enema.
On the day of your Examination
Upon arrival for your appointment, you will present to our reception, where our friendly staff will greet you and inform you about what will happen next. Please arrive at least 30 minutes before your stated appointment.
You will be given a small enema and asked to evacuate your bowel.
Once it is time for your scan one of our MRI radiographers will take you through to the MRI area where they will confirm your details and ask you to change into a gown. You will be asked to remove any metallic items such as jewellery.
All valuables may be safely stored in a locker that is provided to you.
A final check of your MRI safety form will be performed and you will be asked to go to the toilet to empty your bladder and bowel just prior to commencing the scan.
Our radiographer or nurse will insert an intravenous cannula into your arm using a tiny needle. This will be used for administering the following agents:
- Buscopan: This is a medication that slows down the involuntary movement of your small bowel so that there is minimal movement artefact from internal organs on your images. Please tell our staff if you have any heart conditions, glaucoma or allergies.
- MRI contrast medium: A gadolinium-based contrast medium is administered to assess the blood flow to your prostate which is useful in the diagnosis of prostate cancer.
If you have any questions about any of these agents please ask our staff beforehand.
When we take you into the MRI room you will be asked to lie on your back on the MRI bed and we will position a lightweight belt-like structure over your pelvis (this is what the images are received with). A small pillow can be placed under your knees for comfort.
We will provide you with headphones to block the noise that the MRI machine makes during its operation. Our radiographers will communicate with you through these headphones and if you wish we can also play the radio for you through these headphones.
A call buzzer will be placed in your hand for you to use if you need to contact the radiographer at any time during your scan.
It is very important that you keep your body still throughout the MRI examination. The slightest movement can cause blur making diagnostic interpretation difficult. Please breath gently from the chest and not deeply into the abdomen as the motion from deep breathing can also affect the quality of your scan.
The total scan time of a prostate MRI is 30 to 40 minutes.
After your Examination
Upon completion of your scan, our nurse or radiographer will remove the cannula from your arm and you will change back into your normal clothes.
We will provide you with images of your scan that you may take away with you on the day.
Your scan will be looked at and reported by one of our specialist MRI radiologists and the results will be sent to your specialist doctor in time for your appointment.
This usually only takes a day or two. Please inform us if you have an appointment with your specialist sooner.Request an appointment