When Does a Doctor Order a Prostate MRI?

June 10, 2022 – 3 min read

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Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, apart from skin cancer. If you receive a prostate cancer diagnosis, a prostate MRI can help your doctor determine the right treatment plan. Prostate MRI can also assist in the diagnosis of enlarged or infected prostate, as well as problems that develop after pelvic surgery.

Diagnosing prostate cancer

Men between ages 55 and 69 at average risk should consult their doctor about prostate cancer screening, while other men may need to begin screenings sooner.

Men who choose to be screened for prostate cancer will typically have a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, which measures the level of a protein called PSA in the blood. A high PSA level can indicate a risk for cancer, but it can also be a sign of benign conditions and other factors. If your PSA level is above normal, your doctor will likely follow up with other tests. These might include:

  • A digital rectal exam, in which a doctor checks the prostate for any abnormal areas by inserting a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum
  • A transrectal ultrasound, a form of prostate imaging
  • A biopsy, in which a doctor removes small samples from the prostate and examines them under a microscope
  • Multiparametric MRI, which includes multiple types of MRI to help determine whether cancer is present and pinpoint its location

Doctors may also use prostate MRI scans to aid in precision and accuracy during a biopsy.

Touchstone Medical Imaging offers high-quality, affordable MRI scans to help diagnose and stage pelvic diseases, including prostate cancer. After getting a doctor’s order for an MRI, make an appointment at one of our many convenient centers.

3T prostate MRI for biopsy preparation and disease assessment

If your doctor has ordered follow-up studies after a suspicious PSA result, an imaging scan known as a 3T prostate MRI can help identify areas to target for biopsy. This allows for biopsy to be more precise and may lessen the need for more invasive biopsy techniques.

3T prostate MRI can also provide doctors with insight as they interpret unclear PSA or biopsy results. Additionally, by revealing the flow of blood and water molecules through the prostate, 3T prostate MRI can help doctors determine how extensive and/or aggressive a tumor may be.

Staging prostate cancer

If biopsy results show cancer is present, an MRI of areas of suspected spread serves as a vital tool to aid in staging the disease—that is, determining how far it has spread. An MRI can help the doctor see whether the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other organs.

During an MRI, you lie on a table that slides into the MRI machine, which takes images that the radiologist examines for abnormalities. The exams typically take about 45 minutes. Ask your doctor whether you should avoid eating or drinking before your scan.

Depending on the stage of prostate cancer, your doctor may recommend additional imaging, such as a bone scan to determine whether the disease has metastasized to the bones. Imaging studies such as CT may also be recommended.

MRI for other prostate concerns

MRI for prostate imaging can help diagnose conditions beyond prostate cancer. In some cases, doctors may order an MRI for patients suspected of having:

  • Enlarged prostate, also called benign prostatic hyperplasia
  • Prostatitis, or infection in the prostate
  • Problems that develop after surgery to the pelvis

Any concerns about your prostate can be stressful. Touchstone Medical Imaging offers convenient evening and weekend hours and same-day appointments so you can get the information you and your doctor need to determine the right treatment plan for you.


Touchstone Medical Imaging’s board-certified, subspecialized radiologists provide doctors with precise results they can trust. After receiving an order from your doctor for an MRI scan or other imaging, make an appointment at the Touchstone Medical Imaging center nearest you.