Prostate MRI does not use ionising radiation. It is primarily used to detect evidence of prostatic cancer, and once confirmed by biopsy, to evaluate the extent of cancer and determine whether it has spread.
A prostate MRI may also be used to identify areas of prostate cancer recurrence after treatment, and to help diagnose congenital abnormalities or infection in an enlarged prostate.
How should I prepare for a prostate MRI?
When you schedule your appointment, Epworth Medical Imaging staff will advise what is required in preparation for your prostate MRI. They will explain that as the prostate gland is located immediately adjacent to the bowel, a small enema will be used on the day to ensure optimal diagnostic quality.
At the time of booking, you should inform staff of any previous surgery. It is important to tell us if you have any of the following metallic devices or surgical implants inside your body:
- artificial heart valves
- artificial stapes (stapedectomy)
- cardiac pacemaker
- cerebral aneurysm clips
- cochlear implant
- mechanical infusion pump
- metal in your eyes (from previous welding or grinding)
If you have a history of diabetes, kidney or liver disease, high blood pressure or are over 60 years we will also require a recent blood test result to assess your kidney function (eGFR). If you have not had a recent test, our reception staff can arrange this for you prior to your scan.
Our wide-bore machines are designed to maximise patient comfort, but if you suffer from claustrophobia or think you will find it challenging to remain still in an enclosed space, please inform our staff when you schedule your appointment as you may require sedation.
In preparation for your MRI please:
- bring any previous medical imaging reports including X-rays to your appointment
- bring recent blood test results to your appointment (if you are over 60 years)
- bring your favourite CD to listen to (if desired)
- continue to take any medication as normal
- do not wear jewellery on the day of your appointment
- fax/email your referral to the Epworth Medical Imaging location where your booking has been made
On the day of your appointment
Please arrive at least 30 minutes before your appointment. Epworth Medical Imaging's friendly staff will greet you on arrival and ask you to complete mandatory forms.
You will be given a small enema and asked to evacuate your bowel.
When it is time for your scan, one of our MRI radiographers will take you through to the MRI department where they will confirm your details and instruct you to change into a gown. You will be asked to remove all metal objects including jewellery/watches and wallets. A locker will be provided for your valuables.
The radiographer will read the responses to your safety questionnaire and explain the process in detail. It is important to tell your MRI radiographer if you have any metallic devices or surgical implants.
You will again be asked to empty your bladder and bowel before your scan commences.
A radiographer or nurse will insert an intravenous cannula into your arm using a tiny needle. This will be used to administer the following agents:
- Buscopan: a medication that slows down the involuntary movement of your small bowel to minimise 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 (dye) used to assess the blood flow to your prostate to assist in the diagnosis of prostate cancer.
If you have any questions about either of these agents, please ask our staff beforehand.
You will be escorted into the MRI room where you will be asked to lay on the examination table. We will position a lightweight belt-like structure over your pelvis (this receives and transmits images). A small pillow will be placed under your knees for comfort.
You must be as still as possible during the scan. There will be breaks between sequences and you may be instructed to hold your breath for certain scans. Please breathe gently from the chest, not deeply from the abdomen, as motion from deep breathing can affect scan quality.
Throughout the procedure you will be able to communicate directly with the radiographer, who will monitor the study through a glass window from an adjacent room. A call buzzer will be placed into your hand. Press it if you need to contact the radiographer during your scan.
Our low-noise machines are quieter than most. You will be given headphones to minimise noise and will be able to listen to your music of choice.
How long will the procedure take?
The total scan time of a prostate MRI is 30 to 40 minutes.
After your scan, a nurse or radiographer will remove the cannula from your arm. You can then dress, collect your belongings and report to reception. You will be presented with hard copy films or a CD to take with you. The radiologist will produce a report that will be sent directly to your GP or specialist. Please contact your referring doctor to discuss your results.