There are many great tools doctors can use to “see” inside the body. MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machines use magnets and radio waves to create an image. Ultrasound uses sound waves. And sometimes, these tools can be used together for even better results. That is the case with fusion biopsies. A fusion biopsy combines MRI technology with ultrasound technology to create a more detailed image and more accurate biopsy. This helps medical personnel see problem areas and ultimately make treatment more targeted and effective. At KCUC Urology and Oncology, we use MRI/ultrasound fusion biopsies to fight prostate cancer.
Better Technology Means Better Patient Experiences
Detecting, diagnosing, and treating urologic cancers, like prostate cancer, can be tricky because the prostate is not in an easily accessible area. That’s why we rely on the latest technology not only to help us save lives, but to make the patient experience better as well. While our main goal is to treat aggressive cancers, we also want to make the correct diagnosis early so our patients don’t have to undergo unnecessary treatments or additional procedures if their cancer is slow-growing and not life-threatening. MRI/ultrasound fusion technology provides a way to get more accurate biopsies of the most suspicious tissue in the prostate in order to provide the best diagnosis and treatment.
MRI/Ultrasound Fusion Biopsies for Prostate Cancer Screening
Because the prostate is in a difficult position within the body to access, it can be challenging to get a good visual to diagnose problem areas. With MRI/ultrasound fusion biopsies, the detailed 3-D image of the prostate makes it easier to see abnormal areas of tissue in the prostate. As we move the ultrasound probe around the patient’s prostate, the fusion technology combines (fuses) the MRI images with the real-time ultrasound image in order to guide the biopsy needle into these abnormal areas during the ultrasound biopsy. Normally, the urologist collects twelve biopsy cores from predefined areas within the prostate. If no suspicious areas were identified on the MRI, only the standard twelve-core biopsy is performed. But with the fusion technique, we know which areas to target and we can collect biopsy cores from those specific suspicious areas. This tissue is then sent to a pathologist to determine whether it is cancerous.
What to Expect during an MRI/Ultrasound Fusion Biopsy
The MRI/ultrasound fusion biopsy begins with an MRI of the prostate usually a few days or weeks prior to the prostate biopsy. The biopsy is generally done with sedation in an outpatient procedure center. Oral antibiotics and an injected dose at the time of procedure are a standard part of the procedure to help reduce the slight risk of urinary infection. Mild bleeding and soreness and some swelling are normal and may cause temporary urination difficulty. The actual biopsy experience doesn’t change drastically for the patient as it is roughly the same as far as the way it is performed and the time that it takes, however, the accuracy of the procedure is greatly enhanced. Ultimately, using both types of technology, gives us a more accurate means to identify prostate cancer and treat it more effectively.