June is Men’s Health Month, the ideal time to highlight prostate Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). This is an important advancement to how physicians diagnose conditions of the prostate—the walnut-sized gland below the bladder in men. And that’s good news for men throughout Yavapai County.

YRMC’s Dr. Cox has interpreted approximately 1,000 prostate MRIs.

“Prostate MRI can prevent some biopsies and give urologists the information they need to perform targeted biopsies,” said Deven Cox, DO, a Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) Diagnostic Radiologist who is fellowship trained in Body Imaging.

That’s reason enough to celebrate the introduction of prostate MRI at YRMC, but we’ve highlighted a few more below.

  1. Prostate MRI is a relatively new way to diagnose prostate cancer and other prostate-related conditions.

Diagnosing prostate cancer requires a physical exam of the gland’s surface and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. These may be followed by the transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) biopsy.

“The TRUS biopsy is not a true targeted and guided biopsy,” said John Saali, MRI Supervisor, YRMC West in Prescott. “TRUS takes a systematic, but rather blind approach to diagnosing prostate cancer.”

TRUS biopsies require a total of 12 needle punctures: six on one side of the prostate gland and six on the other side. Following a TRUS biopsy, some men experience pain or tenderness, infection, hemorrhaging, and lower urinary tract difficulties.

  1. Prostate MRI is non-invasive, painless and has no side effects.

To patients, the prostate MRI experience closely mimics an MRI. The patient lies comfortably in the MRI scanner at YRMC West in Prescott. An imaging contrast agent is delivered through an IV, which allows the YRMC Imaging Services team to gather images of the patient’s prostate. After the approximately 30-minute procedure, the patient is ready to go about his day.

  1. Prostate MRI is more than a scan of the prostate gland.

Prostate MRI technology allows diagnostic radiologists to answer three essential questions about prostate cancer:

  • Where is the tumor located in the prostate gland?
  • How aggressive is the tumor?
  • Has the cancer spread outside of the prostate gland?

“There are three specific imaging features that make up the prostate MRI,” Saali explained. “They form a construct that provides functional information about a prostate tumor. This information makes treatment much more effective.”

  1. Many prostate conditions can be diagnosed with prostate MRI.

Prostate cancer is a major health issue for men, with one in nine experiencing it during their lives. However, there are many other prostate-related conditions that can be diagnosed by prostate MRI, including:

  • Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) – An enlarged prostate, which is most common in older males.
  • Prostatitis – This is inflammation or an infection of the prostate.

Prostate abscesses and urethral diverticula are less common prostate conditions that are also diagnosed by prostate MRI.

Dr. Cox – who has interpreted approximately 1,000 prostate MRIs during his career – is pleased the medical service is now available at YRMC West.

“It’s an important diagnostic tool to offer the people of our community,” he said.

Prostate MRI is covered by Medicare and most commercial health plans. Talk to your healthcare provider for more information. For specific prostate MRI questions, contact John Saali at (928) 771-5116.