An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan uses magnet and radio waves to build up detailed pictures inside the body and show whether the cancer has spread from the prostate to nearby areas. A computer processes the signals from the radio waves and creates a series of images which the radiologist can study from different angles.

An MRI may be suggested to work out if a biopsy is needed or to help diagnose infection, complications after pelvic surgery, conditions you were born with or an enlarged prostate..

The procedure takes place on an examination table that slides into a large metal cylinder scanner. The process is completely painless and may take 30-40 minutes. It can however be noisy and some may feel claustrophobic.

Always let the technologist know if you have any devices or metal in your body, leave jewellery at home and wear loose, comfortable clothing.


  • Do not use radiation
  • Non-invasive imaging technique
  • Provide clearer, more detailed images than other imaging methods
  • Can detect abnormalities that may be obscured by bone with other imaging methods


  • Risk of using too much sedation
  • Strong magnetic field may cause implanted medical devices to malfunction or distort images
  • Slight risk of allergic reaction if exam uses contrast material
  • Those with serious kidney disease may experience Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis which is related to the injection of gadolinium contrast