An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan creates a detailed picture of your prostate and the surrounding tissues.
In some hospitals you might have a special type of MRI scan, called a multi-parametric MRI (mpMRI) scan, before having a biopsy. This can help your doctor see if there is any cancer inside your prostate, and how quickly any cancer is likely to grow.
In other hospitals, you may have an MRI scan after a biopsy, to find out if any cancer inside the prostate has spread. This will help your doctor to work out the most suitable treatment options for you.
Before the scan the doctor or nurse will ask questions about your health. As the scan uses magnets, they will ask whether you have any implants that could be attracted to the magnet. For example, if you have a pacemaker for your heart you may not be able to have an MRI scan. You’ll also need to take off any jewellery or metal items.
You will lie very still on a table, which will move slowly into the scanner. MRI scanners are shaped like a doughnut or a long tunnel. If you don’t like closed or small spaces (claustrophobia), tell your radiographer (the person who takes the images).
The radiographer might give you an injection of a dye during the scan. The dye helps them see the prostate and other organs more clearly on the scan. Let them know if you know you’re allergic to the dye or have any other allergies.
The scan takes 30 to 40 minutes. The machine won’t touch you but it is very noisy and you might feel warm. The radiographer will leave the room but you’ll be able to speak to them through an intercom, and you might be able to listen to music through headphones.