MRI of the prostate is a non-invasive procedure that takes images of the prostate gland.
It can be used to diagnose infection, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or congenital abnormalities. It can also be used to diagnose extent of prostate cancer and whether it has spread.
Prostate MRI provides images that are clearer and more detailed than some other imaging methods.
When you arrive for your examination, you will be asked to fill out a safety questionnaire.
A small needle (intravenous cannula) will be placed in your arm to give you a muscle relaxant (Buscopan) and a contrast dye (Gadolinium). Buscopan relaxes the muscles of your bowel for approximately 15 minutes which ensures better imaging. Towards the end of the procedure, the contrast dye (Gadolinium) is given to enable the doctors to better see the blood flow.
You will lie in the scanner with a special coil over your pelvis, which needs to be in the centre of the magnet. Usually, you will go into the MRI scanner feet-first. For most patients, this means your head will be outside of the scanner.
During the scan, you will need to be as still as possible. If you experience claustrophobia (fear of small places), please discuss this with us before your scan. If sedation (medication to relax you) is required, you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home.
MRI scanners make a loud knocking sound while the images are developed. To reduce the impact of the noise, you will be offered headphones or earplugs. You will also be offered a buzzer to press if you want to talk to the technologist at any time during the scan.
Risks / Side Effects
As part of the MRI examination, you will be given an injection of a contrast agent (dye) known as Gadolinium. This medication is administered intravenously (injection into vein) through a needle. Overall MRI contrast injection is a safe procedure. Occasionally patients feel a little nauseous but this only lasts momentarily. More serious allergic type reactions, although possible, are extremely rare. The staff in the MRI department are fully trained to deal with such a reaction should it occur.
Possible side effects of Buscopan include dry mouth, blurred vision, itchiness, drowsiness and increased pulse rate. If you experience any of these, they should pass quickly. Rarely, it can cause an inability to pass urine. In patients with untreated or unknown glaucoma, it may cause a red, swollen eye. If you experience pain in the eye or deteriorating vision, please go to an emergency department.
Before your Scan
When making the appointment, you will be told to fast (not eat or drink anything) for 6 hours before your appointment.
Because MRI uses large and strong magnets to create images, it is important that jewellery such as watches, chains, earrings and other metallic items such as eye-glasses are removed before the scan. You may also be asked to change into an examination gown for your safety and to make sure your clothing does not affect the images and diagnostic quality of the scan.
MRI of the prostate takes 30 – 45 minutes.
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