What is an MRI-TRUS fusion biopsy?
In a conventional prostate biopsy, the urologist takes one or two tissue samples from each area of the prostate using ultrasound to guide the biopsy needle. Because ultrasound is not as good at imaging prostate tumours as an MRI scan (on an ultrasound scan cancer tissue looks very similar to healthy tissue), when this method is used, samples are ultimately taken at random. Using this method, it is easy to overlook small tumours and tumours in unusual positions in particular.
The novel technique of MRI-TRUS fusion biopsy, in which the urologist works closely together with a radiologist, provides more clarity. With this procedure, the prostate is first examined using a special type of MRI scan known as a multi-parametric MRI (mpMRI) scan. This involves combining a number of different specific MRI sequences. The scan images from this type of scan allow better visualisation of tumours in the prostate and provide better information on the size and aggressiveness of these tumours.
Where MRI-TRUS fusion biopsy is innovative is that a special ultrasound device is used to overlay (fuse) the live ultrasound image with the images produced by the MRI scan.
Suspicious areas are marked in advance by the radiologist and the biopsy needle can then be guided to these areas using simple, established ultrasound techniques.
MRI-TRUS fusion biopsy is therefore a relatively non-invasive procedure which allows highly accurate detection of very small areas of potentially cancerous tissue at an early stage. This allows further action to be planned as required.
For patients, this means they can be told clearly whether or not they have prostate cancer and if so how it should be treated.
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