Traditionally, prostate biopsies are performed under ultrasound guidance by randomly sampling all regions of the prostate gland. While some prostate cancers can be seen on ultrasound, the ultrasound images are not distinct enough to distinguish cancerous from normal prostate tissue.
Recently, with the advent of MRI scans of the prostate, we are able to obtain high-quality images of the inside of the prostate gland. An MRI scan may indicate suspicious areas for prostate cancer, but prostate cancer cannot be diagnosed with an MRI scan and a needle biopsy is required to confirm prostate cancer. Unfortunately, it is difficult to perform prostate biopsies in the confined space of an MRI machine.
MRI/US fusion technology allows the abnormalities on MRI images to be overlaid on live transrectal ultrasound images during prostate biopsy. This allows accurate targeting of MRI detected suspicious lesions rather than random biopsies of the entire prostate.
Some recent studies have shown that MRI/US fusion targeted prostate biopsies are better than traditional biopsies at finding prostate cancers that are serious and need treatment and will overlook clinically insignificant prostate cancers that we don’t need to worry about.