A team of scientists and physicians from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, with counterparts at University of California, Los Angeles, have developed a novel imaging technique that measurably improves upon current prostate imaging – and may have significant implications for how patients with prostate cancer are ultimately treated.

“This new approach is a more reliable imaging technique for localizing tumors. It provides a better target for biopsies, especially for smaller tumors,” said Rebecca Rakow-Penner, MD, PhD, a research resident in the Department of Radiology and the study’s first author.

The current standard of care for detecting and diagnosing prostate cancer is contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which involves intravenously injecting patients with a contrast agent to highlight blood flow. Greater blood flow is often a requirement of growing cancer cells. When compared to surrounding healthy tissues, the contrast enhanced MRIs will reveal the shape and nature of any tumors present.

A new approach, called restriction spectrum imaging-MRI or RSI-MRI, corrects for magnetic field distortions and focuses upon water diffusion within tumor cells. The ability to accurately plot a tumor’s location and extent is increased.