What Is a Prostate Fusion Biopsy?
A prostate fusion biopsy uses MRI and ultrasound imaging to help doctors find aggressive tumors. Compared with other techniques, it reduces the amount of tissue needed for a biopsy.
A prostate biopsy is the most reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer. It involves removing several samples of prostate tissue to test for cancer.
Doctors can use various imaging techniques, like MRI and ultrasound, to help detect areas of tissue they want to test. A prostate fusion biopsy uses a combination of these techniques.
Detailed MRI and ultrasound imaging help medical professionals locate growths or tumors that might indicate high-risk prostate cancer. According to a 2019 review by Trusted Source, prostate fusion biopsy offers clear advantages over the traditional transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) technique.
Read on to learn about the prostate fusion biopsy procedure, including potential side effects and what to expect during recovery.
Pros of a prostate fusion biopsy
- It can better detect areas that may be cancerous.
- It can help doctors determine which tumors are aggressive and need treatment.
- It reduces the need for repeat biopsies.
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What is the procedure for a prostate fusion biopsy?
Doctors can sometimes perform a prostate fusion biopsy in a single outpatient visit. In some cases, however, a radiologist or prostate specialist may do the MRI on a day before the ultrasound and biopsy to examine the MRI images beforehand.
Here’s the typical procedure for a prostate fusion biopsy:
1. A healthcare professional will ask you to lie flat on an MRI machine.
2. They’ll place you into the MRI machine up to your waist. Powerful magnetic waves will generate detailed images of your prostate and surrounding areas.
3. Once the MRI is complete, you’ll move to another area for the ultrasound, where you’ll lie flat or on your side.
4. You’ll receive an injection of a local anesthetic and a periprostatic nerve blocker into your perineum (the skin between your scrotum and anus). These keep you from feeling pain during the ultrasound and biopsy.
5. The ultrasound technician will gently insert an ultrasound machine into your rectum, and this uses sound waves to generate detailed images of the area around the prostate.
6. As the technician gets ultrasound images, they can cross-reference them with MRI images in real-time, allowing them to get the most detailed view of your prostate.
7. The technician will see a digital readout indicating areas they need to biopsy.
8. They’ll then insert a needle through your skin into the areas they’ve identified and remove up to 12 tissue samples from the prostate. It’s also possible to take biopsy samples through the rectum.
You may need to wait for a few minutes after the procedure to make sure you don’t bleed or have any complications. You’ll be able to go home shortly afterward.
What are the side effects of a prostate fusion biopsy?
Possible side effects of a prostate fusion biopsy include:
- pain or discomfort at the needle insertion site
- bleeding that doesn’t stop
- blood in your semen for a few days
- blood in your urine
- having trouble peeing
- infection in your prostate or the surrounding tissue
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What can I expect during recovery after a prostate fusion biopsy?
Recovery from a prostate fusion biopsy is usually quick.
Here are some instructions you might get:
- Don’t do any strenuous exercise or heavy lifting for at least 24 hours.
- Take the entire course of any antibiotics your doctor prescribes.
- Monitor your urine and semen for discoloration lasting longer than a few weeks.
Seek immediate medical help if you have any of these complications for longer than a week or have a fever after the procedure.
How do I prepare for a prostate fusion biopsy?
Before a prostate fusion biopsy, your doctor may ask you to give a urine sample to test for infections. They may also suggest that you:
- Stop any blood thinners or other medications that can cause bleeding.
- Get an enema to clean out your colon before the procedure.
- Take antibiotics that can help protect you from an infection after the procedure.
Frequently asked questions
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about a prostate fusion biopsy.
What is the difference between a fusion biopsy and a regular biopsy?
A prostate fusion biopsy uses both MRI and ultrasound images to map the area around your prostate as accurately as possible, which can reveal irregular tissues that might not show up on an ultrasound test alone.
A typical TRUS-guided biopsy only uses ultrasound images to guide a medical professional to the areas that require biopsy. Still, they may not map the region as accurately, which may increase the need for multiple biopsies over time.
How long does a prostate fusion biopsy take?
An MRI takes about 30 minutes to complete. The ultrasound and biopsy procedure takes about 20–30 minutes, depending on how many tissue samples the doctor needs.
Is a prostate fusion biopsy painful?
A prostate fusion biopsy isn’t usually painful. The professional performing the procedure will often apply a local anesthetic and use other nerve-blocking tools to numb or reduce the sensation in the area around your prostate.
A 2023 study by Trusted Source of 143 people who had a prostate fusion biopsy found that pain can depend on how much a tumor has grown, how long the procedure takes, and how low a person’s prostate-specific antigen levels are. Still, most people in the study rated their pain below an eight on a scale of 1–10.
Are you under anesthesia for a prostate fusion biopsy?
You won’t be under general anesthesia for a prostate fusion biopsy. Healthcare professionals use a local anesthetic to numb the area where they’ll perform the biopsy.
Talk with a doctor if you want to use a general anesthetic during your biopsy so that you’re aware of the possible risks and side effects.
Is a prostate fusion biopsy more expensive than a regular biopsy?
According to a 2017 study, a prostate fusion biopsy costs about 6.7% more than a TRUS-guided biopsy. However, it may reduce the need for repeat biopsies. Your insurance may cover both types.
A prostate fusion biopsy is one of the most accurate methods available to identify possible areas in and around your prostate that might be cancerous.
It’s also a safe and quick procedure that can help you determine the following steps to take if your biopsy finds prostate cancer.
A. L. Heywood
Medically Reviewed By
Julie Scott, DNP, ANP-BC, AOCNP
Copy Edited By