Diagnosis using MRI scanning
MRI scanning (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a type of scan that produces detailed images of inside the body through the use of radio waves and magnetic fields. Essentially it is a large tube containing magnets that you lie inside during the scanning process and it can be used to scan almost any part of your body.
The results of an MRI scan can be used to help diagnose conditions, plan treatments and assess how effective previous treatment has been.
Multiparametric MRI scan
A multiparametric MRI combines several tests to give the consultant a more complete picture of the prostate cancer patient’s condition:
- Regular MRI scan.
- Spectroscopic MRI scan which measures chemical concentrations.
- Dynamic Contrast Enhanced (DCE) MRI scan which evaluates blood flow to tissue.
- Diffusion Weighted Imaging (DWI) MRI which evaluates cellular packing and disorder.
- These combined results can tell your consultant the severity of the disease, or effectively guide the taking of a biopsy, and use the outcome to deliver a highly defined treatment plan.
What to expect from an MRI scan
You will need to lie on a bed which will be moved into the scanner. This may be head first or feet first as it will depend on the area of the body being scanned.
Occasionally, an injection may be required ahead of the scan to administer a solution that will help see parts of the body clearer. This will be discussed with you ahead of the scan taking place.
You will usually be given earphones or earplugs to wear as the scanner will make a noise whilst the scan is being taken. However, you will be able to talk to the radiographer taking the scan through an intercom as they will be watching the scanning process on a computer screen in the room next door.
Keeping still during the scanning process is important as it will ensure a clear image can be taken. Depending on the number of scans required and the size of the area that is needed to be scanned, it can last between 15 and 90 minutes in total.
Most people can have a MRI scan as it is low risk, even pregnant women and babies. However, if you are claustrophobic, the process may make you feel uncomfortable and it is not always possible to use MRI scanning on people with implants, such as pacemakers.