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MRI Fusion Biopsy for Prostate Cancer - What is it and Why is it Better?

Posted December 16, 2019 by Joseph S Dankoff, MD

Prostate cancer screening

As one of the most common cancers among men, prostate cancer will affect about 1 in 9 men during their lifetime. In fact, more than 60% of cases are diagnosed in men over 65. The cancer has been difficult to detect in early stages using the most common, and somewhat outdated, tests and screenings. These tests and screenings have been used for three decades with adequate results. Yet, more tests are then needed to try to determine the type of cancer and the best treatment plan.

Typical prostate cancer screenings include a blood test to detect prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and a digital rectal exam (DRA). If either are found to be abnormal, physicians may perform a transrectal ultrasound guided biopsy (TRUS). The problem with these tests is that they do not differentiate a life-threatening case from an early-stage, slow growing cancer. Naturally, a physician would recommend to aggressively treat a potentially lethal prostate tumor, but with no way to determine a case that is not life-threatening, a person may undergo unwarranted medical procedures.

Fortunately, a new technology is available to help the main challenges of treating prostate cancer: better detection and differentiation of type. Fusion Guided Biopsy is a type of software that allows doctors to “fuse” detailed MRI scans with live, real-time ultrasound images of the prostate by overlaying the MRI scans over the ultrasound image. This gives doctors a detailed 3-D ultrasound/MRI view.


How It Works:

A patient undergoes an MRI scan, then a radiologist reviews it and marks suspicious areas.

Then, at a later office-based procedure, an ultrasound probe is inserted into the patient, and as the probe is moved around the prostate, the fusion software shifts the overlaid MRI image with the ultrasound.

The combined image allows the doctor to better differentiate suspicious cells from healthy prostate tissue and attain a clearer view to better guide the biopsy needle to the lesion that they want to sample.


Benefits of MRI Fusion Biopsy:

  • Better detection and differentiation between healthy and unhealthy tissue
  • Reduction in the amount of tissue samples required
  • Less painful and decreased risk of infection and bleeding
  • Quicker post-biopsy recovery time


Who qualifies for an MRI Fusion Biopsy:

  • You’ve had a previous negative transrectal ultrasound-guided biopsy with an elevated or rising PSA
  • You’ve had a positive digital rectal examination (DRE) with negative transrectal ultrasound guided biopsy


Summa Health’s urologists are committed to helping men take better care of their health, from gaining a better understanding of risk factors to guiding them toward a better overall well-being. For more information on prostate health, contact the Summa Health Urology Team at 330.374.1255 or visit



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