Multi-parametric magnetic resonance imaging as a management decision tool

David C. Johnson, Robert E. Reiter


The ability to image the prostate accurately and better characterize cancerous lesions makes multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging (mpMRI) an invaluable tool to improve management of localized prostate cancer (PCa). Improved risk stratification is warranted given the evidence of significant overtreatment of indolent PCa. mpMRI can more accurately rule out clinically significant PCa in men deciding between surveillance and definitive treatment to reduce overtreatment. mpMRI improves detection of clinically significant PCa, which helps minimize sampling error, a major limitation of the traditional diagnostic paradigm. Aside from helping determine candidacy for initial surveillance vs. treatment, mpMRI is a useful tool for following men on active surveillance (AS) with the potential to reduce the need for serial biopsies. When definitive treatment is warranted, mpMRI can be used to determine the local extent of disease. This provides information that is useful in the treatment decision, counseling about outcomes, and surgical planning. While mpMRI is a significant step forward in PCa management, it is necessary to understand its limitations. mpMRI and MRI-guided fusion biopsy techniques still do not detect all clinically significant tumors. The utility of current mpMRI techniques is limited by the multifocal nature of PCa with poor detection of non-index lesions, inaccurate estimation of tumor size and geometry, and the need for interpretation by specialized radiologists. The role of mpMRI will continue to expand as improvements in technology and experience help overcome these limitations.