What is Prostate MRI?

Prostate MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, pulses of radio wave energy and a computer to produce very detailed images of the prostate and surrounding tissues. Prostate MRIs are fast, painless and less invasive than other forms of prostate imaging.

MIC uses our most advanced scanner for prostate MRIs—the Siemens Vida 3T—which gives our radiologists exceptional, high-resolution images. These images help your healthcare team with:

  • Cancer screening if you have rising prostate specific antigen (PSA), family history, or a previous negative prostate biopsy.
  • Measuring the size of the prostate or a tumour in the prostate.
  • Identifying the precise area to be biopsied.
  • Monitoring known cancer to watch for tumour growth, check for new or changing cancer, improve targeting of subsequent biopsies and develop treatment plans.
  • Pre-surgical planning to assess whether cancer has spread beyond the prostate (metastasized), measure the size and extent of the cancer (staging) and locate dominant tumours to help guide decision-making regarding surgical approaches.
  • Post-surgical care to monitor patients.
  • Evaluating pain and prostate symptoms such as pain, blood in semen and lower urinary tract symptoms.

MIC’s Dr. Christopher Fung discusses prostate MRI and cancer detection in an article posted here.

Your healthcare practitioner can help you decide whether a prostate MRI is a good choice for you.

How are prostate MRIs performed?

Prostate MRIs are very similar to other types of MRIs.

You will be positioned on your back on the scanner table. A sensor with imaging coils will be placed on top of your pelvis and there are additional coils embedded in the table. These coils produce imaging data for the entire pelvis and prostate.  No rectal coil or probe is used during the MRI.

During your exam, your pelvis will be in the centre of the MRI scanner. The exam includes multiple sequences (sets of pictures) to ensure we obtain the highest quality images possible. Some sequences take several minutes to complete.

An injection of contrast dye is generally used for all prostate MRIs. This makes tissue and blood vessels show up in greater detail. The scan time is approximately 30 – 45 minutes.  Non contrast images are obtained in the first 30 minutes followed by the contrast injection and further imaging.

Is there a cost?

Yes. Prostate MRI in community-based clinics is not insured by Alberta Health Care. You may be able to have some portion of the cost covered by your extended health insurance plan.

What to expect

  • You will need a requisition form filled out by your healthcare practitioner for an MRI.
  • When you call to book your appointment, our booking staff will go over any special instructions with you. Generally, prostate MRI requires no preparation.
  • Please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment. We will give you a gown to wear and ask you to remove anything containing metal such as jewelry, piercings, dentures or hearing aids.
  • You will be asked to fill out an MRI safety screening form. Your technologist will go over the form with you before your exam.
  • The technologist will position you on the MRI scanner table. You will be on your back and a sensor with imaging coils will be placed on top of your pelvis. The sensor generates information the computer uses to create digital images.
  • The technologist will move the scanner table so that your pelvis is in the center of the magnet. You will need to remain still during the exam. You will not need to remove your gown.
  • If you are claustrophobic or think you might suffer from claustrophobia, please inform the technologist. They may be able to position your head outside the scanner.
  • If you have severe claustrophobia, your healthcare practitioner may prescribe a sedative for you to take before your MRI appointment.
  • The scanner produces loud knocking noises. You will be given ear plugs and headphones for hearing protection.
  • The technologist will start your exam with a series of images which will take about 30 minutes. You will then be given an injection of a gadolinium-based contrast dye followed by more imaging. A very small number of people may experience an allergic reaction from the MRI contrast. The technologist will discuss this with you before your exam begins.
  • The technologist will be in the control room during your scan. They will monitor you during the exam and check in to make sure you are comfortable. You will also have a call button to talk to the technologist.
  • An MRI of the prostate usually takes approximately 30 – 45 minutes. Most people will be able to continue with their daily activities as soon as their exam is finished.
  • You will be given a copy of your images on a USB or CD. An MIC radiologist will review your images and a report will be faxed to your healthcare practitioner, usually within 24 hours.