Prostate MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.

MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, bone and virtually all other internal body structures. The images can then be examined on a computer monitor, transmitted electronically, printed or copied to a CD. MRI does not use ionizing radiation (x-rays).

Detailed MR images allow physicians to better evaluate various parts of the body and determine the presence of certain diseases that may not be assessed adequately with other imaging methods such as x-ray, ultrasound or computed tomography (also called CT, MDCT or CAT scanning).

The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system. It is located in front of the rectum and below the bladder, where urine is stored, and surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine and other fluids out of the body. The prostate helps make the milky fluid called semen that carries sperm out of the body when a man ejaculates. Ultrasound and MRI are the most commonly used techniques to image the prostate gland. See the Prostate Ultrasound page for more information.

What are some common uses of the procedure?

The primary indication for MRI of the prostate is the evaluation of prostate cancer. The test is commonly used after a prostate biopsy has confirmed cancer in order to determine if the cancer is confined to the prostate, or if it has spread outside of the prostate gland.

Occasionally, MRI of the prostate is used to evaluate other prostate problems, including:

  • infection (prostatitis) or prostate abscess.
  • an enlarged prostate, called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).