- MRI fusion biopsy is a combination of tests aimed at detecting prostate cancer.
- The newer screening method is safer and allows earlier detection of serious tumors.
- The procedure is divided into two steps, conducted over the course of a few days or weeks.
- MRI fusion biopsy can detect prostate problems that can lead to erectile dysfunction.
Prostate cancer is the number one cancer among American men. Every year, thousands of men undergo a prostate biopsy. Thanks to a new technique, the MRI fusion biopsy, the procedure is now safer and more effective than ever. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is an MRI Fusion Biopsy?
A biopsy is an invasive exam performed to detect possible cancer. Trained medical staff will take tissue samples from the suspected area or organ. There are many ways to do a biopsy; the most common technique uses needles.
Before the invention of fusion biopsies, doctors had to do a blind search. They basically took 12 random samples from different areas of the prostate gland. Scientists first used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on the prostate gland in 1983. Since then, medical experts have developed a more accurate approach to prostate cancer testing.
A fusion biopsy combines modern imaging techniques and a needle biopsy in two ways:
- First, an MRI is performed to detect suspicious areas within the body.
- In the second step, a biopsy is done using an ultrasound. The magic of the new technique is that the MRI image is then fused with, or layered over, a live ultrasound for maximum safety and accuracy of the biopsy procedure.
Fusion MRI Prostate Biopsy vs. Traditional Needle-Core Biopsy
The new method of screening for prostate cancer has many advantages over the traditional approach:
- It reduces the risk of infection. The old way of doing a prostate biopsy was to guide the needle through the rectal wall. With the new approach, it’s possible to access the prostate gland through the perineum (area between the scrotum and the anus).
- It increases the patient’s recovery chances. By enabling earlier diagnosis and treatment of serious tumors, men have a better chance of beating cancer.
- It helps avoid the stress and expenses of repeated biopsies. Traditional “blind” biopsies often deliver inconclusive results. The new method is much more accurate because the samples are taken from suspicious areas.
- It helps men avoid erectile dysfunction. Traditional screening methods have led to over-detection and unnecessary treatment of low-risk prostate tumors. According to a report published in 2007, almost half of detected tumors were low-risk at the time.
Today, thanks to MRI fusion biopsies, patients with minor tumors won’t need surgical procedures and will avoid problematic side effects, including erectile dysfunction (ED).
What to Expect From an MRI Fusion Prostate Biopsy?
To get the fusion biopsy, you will need two separate appointments. A few weeks or days before the biopsy, you will go to the hospital for an MRI. You will lie on the table for 45 minutes to an hour and will get an intravenous injection of a special dye. This is an outpatient procedure, and you can drive yourself home after.
The next step is the actual biopsy. To prepare for it, you should do an enema to clear the rectum. Your doctor will also prescribe antibiotics to start taking before the exam.
To guide the biopsy needle, the radiologist will place an ultrasound probe in your anus. Depending on the selected technique, the needle will go through either the rectal wall or the perineum. This will take place under a local anesthetic. You will have to take antibiotics for a few days after the exam.
Getting Help For Prostate-related ED
Prostate diseases, even if they are not cancer, can cause erectile dysfunction. Men who have undergone prostate surgery usually suffer at least temporary ED and orgasm difficulties.
Still, it’s possible to have a satisfying sex life when dealing with prostate issues! Talk to your doctor about modern ED treatments and visit our erectile dysfunction page to learn about the ED meds we carry, including Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, and others.
Anka Grzywacz is a sexologist, reproductive health expert and Certified Sex Coach™. In her online practice she helps busy women and couples solve their intimate problems.