Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
What is Nuclear Magnetic Resonance?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is a method that allows you to see the body’s internal organs.
The exam is essential for performing neuroimaging studies of the brain and bone marrow and for assessing oncological (cancer) and other, namely urological, diseases (to observe changes to the kidneys, bladder or prostate).
NMR of the prostate is used as a very important diagnostic tool for severe pathologies, such as malignant tumours.
It can help a specialist identify nodules or suspicious areas, which can then be complemented if necessary with a later transrectal prostate biopsy.
Importance of MRI for Prostate Pathologies
NMR, preferably at 3.0 tesla, is a more effective prostate test than computed tomography.
It is essential for staging a tumour by allowing a thorough assessment of whether the disease has spread beyond the prostate. It can also be useful in planning surgery in suitable cases.
It can also save a patient from an invasive biopsy if the imaging is clear and convincing.
It is above all useful for effective assessment of the size and location of more aggressive tumours.
What is the Prostate NMR Procedure?
The exam is painless, harmless and patients do not run any risk from being subject to the scanner’s magnetic field.
The patient has to lie still on their back for 30–45 minutes.
After lying down, the patient is “inserted” into the MR scanner at a point near the part of the body to be assessed so that the signal is enhanced and the image quality improved.
The stretcher slides into the scanner, which has a large “magnet” and radiofrequency wave antennas, which construct an image of the selected spot.
In some cases, the resolution of the images is improved with contrast agents.
MRI with Contrast Enhancing
Gadolinium is a type of contrast administered intravenously that enhances the signals in blood-flow structures, helping to clarify the presence of tumours or inflammation.
This type of exam is not advised for patients with severe renal insufficiency due to exposure to and use of gadolinium. Claustrophobics may find it difficult to do.
Patient Preparation for MRI
Patients must not eat for 3–6 hours before an MRI depending on the exam’s purpose. They must also remove all metal objects from their body.
What are the Risks Associated with MRI?
There are no do direct risks associated with the exam, but some care must be taken. Inform your doctor if you have any of the following:
- Claustrophobia (e.g. a sedative may be necessary);
- Back pain when lying down (the doctor may administer a muscle relaxant);
- Surgical prostheses or implants (the exam cannot be done in some cases).
Dr. José Santos Dias
Clinical Director of the Instituto da Próstata
- Bacherlor's Degree from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Lisbon
- Specialist in Urology
- Fellow of the European Board of Urology
- Autor dos livros "Tudo o que sempre quis saber Sobre Próstata", "Urologia fundamental na Prática Clínica", "Urologia em 10 minutos","Casos Clínicos de Urologia" e "Protocolos de Urgência em Urologia"
FAQs about NMR
What is NMR?
Does MRI have side effects?
Is there any contra-indication for MRI?
Is MRI important for assessing prostate cancer?
- DIAS, José Santos, Urologia Fundamental: na prática clínica. Lisbon: Lidel - Edições Técnicas, Lda, 2010.
- Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy as a new approach for improvement of early diagnosis and risk stratification of prostate cancer
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)