Ultra-small superparamagnetic iron oxide contrast agents for lymph node staging of high-risk prostate cancer
Ultrasmall superparamagnetic particles of iron oxide (USPIOs) imaged with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have been proposed as an experimental method for visualizing lymph node (LN) metastases. The method does not require ionizing radiation, yet can detect small nodes that are involved with metastases. USPIOs are naturally taken up by macrophages that deposit in the normal LN creating a low signal region in normal areas; areas within the node that do not show this loss of signal are likely involved by tumor although there can be other causes (fibrosis or inflammation). However, the lack of approved USPIOs that are clinically available hinders adoption and larger studies. The proposed indications for USPIO MRI, including specific compounds and imaging methods are discussed.