Abdominal Imaging

, Volume 40, Issue 7, pp 2814–2838 | Cite as

Post-treated prostate cancer: normal findings and signs of local relapse on multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging

  • João Lopes Dias
  • Rita Lucas
  • João Magalhães Pina
  • Raquel João
  • Nuno Vasco Costa
  • Cecília Leal
  • Tiago Bilhim
  • Luís Campos Pinheiro
  • Rui Mateus Marques
Pictorial Essay


The use of multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging (mp-MRI) for prostate cancer has increased over recent years, mainly for detection, staging, and active surveillance. However, suspicion of recurrence in the set of biochemical failure is becoming a significant reason for clinicians to request mp-MRI. Radiologists should be able to recognize the normal post-treatment MRI findings. Fibrosis and atrophic remnant seminal vesicles after prostatectomy are often found and must be differentiated from local relapse. Moreover, brachytherapy, external beam radiotherapy, cryosurgery, and hormonal therapy tend to diffusely decrease the signal intensity of the peripheral zone on T2-weighted images (T2WI) due to the loss of water content, consequently mimicking tumor and hemorrhage. The combination of T2WI and functional studies like diffusion-weighted imaging and dynamic contrast-enhanced improves the identification of local relapse. Tumor recurrence tends to restrict on diffusion images and avidly enhances after contrast administration either within or outside the gland. The authors provide a pictorial review of the normal findings and the signs of local tumor relapse after radical prostatectomy, external beam radiotherapy, brachytherapy, cryosurgery, and hormonal therapy.


Prostate cancer Multiparametric resonance imaging Recurrence 

Multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging (mp-MRI) has been used for detection, localization, and staging of prostate cancer (PCa) over the last few years. It combines T1 and T2-weighted images (WI) with at least two functional techniques such as dynamic contrast-enhanced MR imaging (DCE-MRI), diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI), and MR spectroscopy (MRS) [1]. The role of mp-MRI on PCa has, however, been extended to cases of active surveillance, patients who refused biopsy, MRI-guided or MRI-Ultrasound fusion biopsy, post-treatment surveillance, and diagnosis of recurrence [1, 2, 3, 4].

Radical prostatectomy (RP) and radiotherapy (RT), either by external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) or brachytherapy (BT), have curative intent in patients with localized PCa. Other alternative treatment options like cryosurgery and high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) are minimally invasive procedures with reduced toxicity. However, they are not completely established yet [5].

This manuscript provides a pictorial review of the normal findings and signs of local tumor relapse after RP, EBRT, BT, cryosurgery, and hormonal therapy (HT).

Imaging approach to biochemical failure

Recurrence after curative intent treatment is not uncommon. Among patients undergoing RP or RT, 27% to 53% develop biochemical failure (BF), which is defined as a rise in prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level, and 16% to 35% need second-line treatment. PSA level remains the basis of follow-up after curative treatment, but the definition of BF differs between RP and RT. After RP, it is defined by two consecutive PSA values of >0.2 ng/mL. After RT, with or without short-term hormonal manipulation, it is defined by a PSA increase >2 ng/mL higher than the initial PSA nadir value. We should emphasize that PSA recurrence tends to precede clinical recurrence after RP or RT, in some cases by several years [5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10].

PSA is also a good marker for following the course of metastatic PCa, usually treated with HT. However, it must be stressed that some poorly differentiated tumors do not secrete PSA and laboratorial follow-up should not constitute an isolated parameter in these patients. Clinical progression, commonly with bone pain, should also be considered [7].

After identifying a BF, it should be defined whether the recurrence has developed at local or distant sites. Patients with local-only disease should be distinguished and guided toward salvage local treatments. These treatments are associated with considerable morbidity and should be avoided in patients with distant metastases, who have a lower chance of benefiting from them and should undergo systemic therapies [8].

In the assessment of distant metastases, bone scans for bone metastases and abdominopelvic computed tomography (CT) for lymph node disease are usually requested. Positron emission tomography with CT (PET/CT) and diffusion-weighted whole-body MRI, both more sensitive than bone scan and targeted radiographs in the detection of bone metastases in patients with high-risk PCa, may also be used [11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18]. According to the European Society of Urogenital Radiology (ESUR) [1], an MRI protocol based on T1WI and short tau inversion recovery (STIR) sequences for axial and pelvic skeleton is also recommended for bone metastasis assessment.

In local recurrence assessment, transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) is neither sensitive nor specific in both post-RP and RT cases. Due to its high contrast resolution, MRI has been increasingly used in cases of suspicion of PCa local relapse after RP or RT [19]. Conventional morphological sequences may be untrustworthy and accuracy levels have increased with combined use of functional techniques, namely DCE-MRI and DWI [7].

Radical prostatectomy

Radical prostatectomy implies removal of the entire prostate gland and both seminal vesicles, along with some of the fat surrounding tissue, with the goal of getting negative margins. The procedure should be accompanied by extended pelvic lymphadenectomy in patients with intermediate- and high-risk PCa. In men with low-risk PCa and <50% positive biopsy cores, both the need and the extent of lymphadenectomy remain controversial as the risk of lymph node involvement is low [5, 20].

Radical retropubic prostatectomy (RRP) and perineal prostatectomy are performed through open incisions. Minimally invasive laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (LRP) and robot-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy (RALP) have been recently developed and are being increasingly used in many centers. RALP is apparently associated with less blood loss and transfusion need, when compared to RRP. Negligible differences regarding the remaining post-operative complications were found [21, 22].

According to the European Association of Urology (EAU) [5], RP is indicated in patients with low- and intermediate-risk localized PCa (cT1a-T2b and Gleason Score [GS] 2–7 and PSA < 20 ng/mL) and life expectancy higher than 10 years. Some selected patients with low-volume, high-risk localized PCa (cT3a or GS 8–10 or PSA > 20 ng/mL) and very high-risk localized PCa (cT3b-T4 N0 or any T N1) may also undergo RP, but always in a multimodality setting. The goal of RP is to eradicate the disease, conserving continence and potency [23, 24].

Over the last decade, the diagnosis of PCa has been established in younger men, so the preservation of sexual function has gained greater importance. Nerve-sparing RP may be attempted in patients with low risk for extracapsular disease (T1c, GS < 7 and PSA < 10 ng/mL). The recognition of neurovascular bundle involvement on initial staging MRI is crucial [5, 25, 26].

A persistently elevated post-RP PSA level (6 weeks after) is usually related to residual tumor, either due to distant micrometastases or residual pelvic disease. Rarely, a stable and low PSA level may be caused by residual benign glands [8]. If PSA level increases promptly after surgery, distant metastases are more likely to be the cause. On the other hand, a later and slower rise probably indicates local disease recurrence. pT2-3a N0 tumors are more associated with local recurrence, particularly when margins are negative, while pT3b-4 and/or pN1 cancers are more likely to relapse at distant sites. GS in the prostatectomy specimen also has prognostic implications: when <8, local relapse is more probable; when ≥8, systemic recurrence and cancer-related death are more likely to happen [10, 27].

In the majority of centers, post-RP recurrent cancer is defined as two consecutive PSA values of 0.2 ng/mL or more, despite some authors considering a higher cut-off of 0.4 ng/mL [7, 8, 10, 28]. When a post-RP BF is recognized, salvage RT is generally performed without histological confirmation of local relapse, since TRUS is neither sensitive nor specific and a negative biopsy does not rule out a local recurrence [7, 8]. MRI is very useful in cases of suspicion of PCa local relapse after RP [19]. Several studies have been published over the last few years reporting higher accuracy rates for the combined use of morphological and functional sequences comparing to morphological sequences alone. Cirillo et al. [29] showed that contrast-enhanced sequences improve diagnostic performance when added to T2WI. In another study, Sciarra et al. [30] reported a sensitivity of 87% and specificity of 94% for the combined use of MRS and DCE-MRI in the detection of local PCa recurrence in patients with BF after RP.

After RP, bladder neck and vesicourethral anastomosis (VUA) are expected to appear as a strongly hypointense ring on T2WI, which reflects scar and fibrotic tissue (Figs. 1, 2), usually without or only with slightly progressive enhancement on DCE images [8]. It is common to find a regular and circumferential enhancement of the urethral wall under the bladder neck (Fig. 2). Both high b values and the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) map demonstrate low signal intensity due to fibrosis. Bladder neck may appear dysmorphic in some cases.
Fig. 1

Axial and sagittal T2 WI show normal post-prostatectomy fibrosis at the level of seminal vesicles (A) and typical hypointense bladder neck and peri-urethral tissue (B).

Fig. 2

Axial (A, B) and coronal (C) T2WI show normal post-prostatectomy fibrosis at the level of seminal vesicles (A) and typical appearance of the bladder neck (B, C). It usually presents as a strongly hypointense ring with variable thickness. DCE subtracted image at a lower axial plane (D) shows the normal ring enhancement of the urethra (arrow), with no enhancement of the surrounding fibrotic tissue.

RP implies removal of the seminal vesicles. At their site, T2WI typically shows linear hypointense fibrosis (Figs. 1, 2). If nodularity is found, functional techniques should be assessed to exclude recurrence (Figs. 3, 4). Absent or slight and late enhancement, as well as lack of restriction on DWI, is unsuspicious signs. Retained seminal vesicles may also preserve their high signal intensity and convoluted structure on T2WI [8].
Fig. 3

Axial T2W images show normal post-prostatectomy fibrosis at the level of seminal vesicles and remnant right seminal vesicle (A). The distal segment of the vas deferens may be also seen (B).

Fig. 4

Status post-RP in a patient with no laboratorial or imaging signs of recurrence. Axial T2WI A shows an elongated, strongly hypointese, thick fibrotic nodularity at the site of the left seminal vesicle. This area demonstrates very low signal intensity on the ADC map (B, red contour) and at high b values (not shown), as well as no significant enhancement on DCE images (C).

Local relapse after RP commonly appears in the retrovesical space and at the VUA. On T2WI, it is usually seen as an interruption of the normal hypointense ring of the bladder neck and VUA by a tumor with higher signal intensity (Figs. 5, 6, 7, 8) [31]. On DCE images, recurrence typically presents as early enhancing nodules (Figs. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). Some authors like Casciani et al. [32] have reported the utility of time-signal intensity curves. However, this feature is not consensual in the set of recurrence suspicion. Recurrence may also be seen as bright foci on DWI at high b values (Figs. 6, 9, 10), but this evaluation may be hampered due to lack of anatomical references, which may, however, be overcome using T2WI-DWI fusion images. Bone recurrence usually demonstrates the same functional behavior, presenting as enhancing nodules on DCE images (Fig. 11) and restrictive lesions on DWI.
Fig. 5

Images in a 65-year-old man after RP. This patient had a PCa (GS 7 and initial PSA of 12.6 ng/mL). BF was detected 6 years after RP (PSA 1.3 ng/mL). Axial T2WI (A) shows interruption of the normal signal hypointensity of the vesicourethral junction by a right posterior tumor with moderate signal intensity (arrow). This area demonstrates great enhancement on DCE images (subtracted axial image, B; sagittal reconstruction, C).

Fig. 6

Images in a 72-year-old man after RP due to PCa (GS 7). 4 years after surgery, BF was detected (PSA 16.2 ng/mL) and HT was initiated. Axial (A) and sagittal (B) T2WI show local recurrence, seen as a moderately intense nodule located posteriorly to the vesicourethral junction (arrows). This nodule is bright on DWI at b 1200 (C), dark on the ADC map (D), and enhances on DCE images (E).

Fig. 7

Images in a 63-year-old man after RP. This patient had a PCa (GS 7, pT2c Nx, with negative margins). 10 years after surgery, BF was detected (PSA 9.8 ng/mL). Axial (A) and sagittal (B) T2WI show interruption of the vesicourethral junction hypointensity ring by an anterior, slightly hyperintense nodule (arrows). This nodule enhances on DCE images (C) and shows type 2 dynamic curve (D).

Fig. 8

Images in a 68-year-old man after RP due to PCa (GS 6). 15 years after surgery, BF was detected (PSA 0.80 ng/mL). Coronal (A) and axial (B) T2WI show a dimorphic bladder neck and a poorly defined right posterior area with moderate signal intensity (arrows). Partial volume artifacts hamper morphologic evaluation, but DCE images (C) reveals suspicious enhancement. Posteriorly to the bladder neck, normal ring enhancement of the rectal mucosa is also seen.

Fig. 9

Images in a 70-year-old man after RP and ilio-obturator lymphadenectomy. This patient had a PCa (GS 7, pT3c N1, with positive margins). 10 years after surgery, BF was detected under HT (PSA 6.4 ng/mL). Axial T2WI (A) shows a nodular, hypointense thickening of the bladder base (arrow), highly restrictive on DWI (B), hypointense on the ADC map (C), and strongly enhancing on T1WI FS after gadolinium administration (D). A left lombo-aortic lymph node metastasis is also seen on T1WI (E, arrow).

Fig. 10

Images in a 67-year-old man after RP due to PCa (GS 8). 5 years after surgery, BF was detected (PSA 0.90 ng/mL). Axial T2WI (A) shows a small tumor deposit with intermediate signal at the site of the right seminal vesicle. This relapse focus enhances on DCE images (B) and demonstrates high signal intensity on DWI at b 1200 (C).

Fig. 11

Images in a 69-year-old man after RP. This patient had a PCa (GS 7). 6 years after surgery, BF was detected (PSA 1.90 ng/mL). Axial T1WI (A) shows a small, hypointense bone metastasis in the right sacral wing. DCE image (B) shows early enhancement. No local relapse was found in the prostatectomy bed.

External beam radiotherapy

External beam radiotherapy (EBRT) remains a valid alternative to surgery for curative therapy. It is recommended for localized PCa (T1c-T2c N0 M0), even in young patients who reject surgical intervention. In high-risk patients with locally advanced PCa (T3-4 N0 M0), long-term androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) before and during RT is recommended and leads to increased overall survival. EBRT may also be used after RP in T3 N0 M0 tumors, improving biochemical and clinical disease-free survival. This combination is particularly effective in cases with post-surgical positive margins. In very high-risk prostate cancer (c-pN1 M0), RT alone is inadequate. These patients, if no severe comorbidity is found, should undergo EBRT and immediate long-term adjuvant hormonal treatment [5, 33].

The current definition of BF after radiation is a PSA rise of more than 2 ng/mL above the post-treatment nadir [10]. In contrast to post-RP local relapse, it is necessary to obtain histological confirmation of the local recurrence after radiation therapy, taking into account the high morbidity of salvage options [8].

After EBRT, the prostate gland loses normal zonal anatomy due to diffuse low signal intensity of the peripheral zone on T2WI (Figs. 12, 13, 14). This diminishes the contrast between tumor and irradiated tissue, hampering recurrence detection on morphological sequences [8].
Fig. 12

Images in a 63-year-old man who underwent EBRT and HT due to a PCa (GS 8, with extracapsular extension). 5 years after starting treatment, PSA decreased from 12 to 0.25 ng/mL. Axial (A, B) and sagittal (C) T2WI show diffuse signal hypointensity of the prostate gland and seminal vesicles (arrow), stranding of the surrounding fat planes, as well as diffuse thickening of the bladder and rectum walls, owing to radiation-induced cystitis and proctitis, respectively.

Fig. 13

Images in a 59-year-old man after EBRT and HT for PCa (GS 6 and initial PSA of 12.79 ng/mL). 5 years later, PSA slightly increased from the immediate post-RT nadir to 1.42 ng/mL. mp-MRI and TRUS-guided biopsy were both negative for local recurrence. Axial T2WI (A) shows a diffusely hypointense gland, with loss of the normal zonal anatomy. DCE images (B) show non-specific diffuse central enhancement. Images at b 1200 (C) show no significant restriction, with corresponding hypersignal on the ADC map (D). This is a non-suspicious shine-through effect.

Fig. 14

Images in a 72-year-old man who underwent EBRT and complete hormonal blockage due to PCa (GS 9 and initial PSA of 33 ng/mL). 3 years after EBRT, a significant BF was detected (PSA 19.1 ng/mL) under HT. Axial T2WI (A) shows a small, diffusely hypointense prostate. At the right side, an area of more pronounced hypointensity is found (red arrow), showing no restriction on DWI (B) and strong hyposignal on the ADC map (C), probably related to fibrotic tissue. However, a round, right inguinal node metastasis is seen, highly restrictive on DWI and dark on the ADC map (white arrows).

Fibrosis and changes of parenchymal vascularization after RT modify the biological behavior of tumors and normal tissue, and may consequently limit the use of functional techniques like DCE-MRI or DWI. Even though, some manuscripts with promising results have been published. According to a study of Haider et al. [34], DCE-MRI performs better than T2WI in the detection of tumor relapse in the peripheral zone after EBRT. The authors reported sensitivity and specificity levels of 72% and 85%, respectively. The enhancement of post-radiation fibrosis is low and slowly progressive, whereas recurrent cancer is typically hypervascular [8]. Kim et al. [35] concluded that the use of combined T2WI and DWI demonstrates better diagnostic performance when compared to T2WI alone for predicting locally recurrent PCa after radiation therapy. In another study, Morgan et al. [36] also emphasized the added vale of DWI, concluding that ADC measurement is useful for detecting local tumor relapse larger than 0.4 cm2 within the prostate. In a more recent study, Donati et al. [37] concluded that the combination of T2WI and DWI achieves the best overall diagnostic accuracy and the highest inter-reader agreement in the detection of recurrent PCa after RT. In other studies, Arumainayagam et al. [38] and Akin et al. [39] demonstrated that mp-MRI using T2WI, DCE-MRI, and DWI is an accurate test for detecting radio-recurrent PCa. The former achieved accuracy levels of 80%–90%.

Some studies were also developed regarding the utility of MRS. Pucar et al. [40] showed that MRS might be more sensitive than TRUS and digital rectal examination for localization of post-EBRT cancer recurrence.

Transperineal brachytherapy

Transperineal BT is a secure and effective treatment for low-risk PCa. According to the EAU, it is recommended in patients with cT1-T2a N0 M0, GS < 7 (or 3 + 4), PSA ≤ 10 ng/mL, ≤50% of biopsy cores involved with cancer, prostate volume <50 mL, without a previous transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), and an International Prostatic Symptom Score ≤12 [5, 21].

This transperineal technique is performed with TRUS. The patient is positioned in a dorsal decubitus gynecological position and seeds’ implantation is performed under general anesthesia or spinal block [41].

There is no consensus on BF after BT. A PSA bounce, defined as a temporary increase of the PSA level followed by a further decrease, occurs in 30%–60% of patients 12–24 months after implantation, without clinical relevance. PSA bounce typically persists for about 12 months and PSA levels usually do not increase more than 1.0 ng/mL [8].

BT may produce several levels of magnetic susceptibility artifacts on both morphological and functional sequences (Fig. 15), hampering cancer detection. When visible, BT seeds appear as dark dots on T2WI and ADC map. Similarly to EBRT, post-BT prostate tends to appear diffusely hypointense on T2WI, with loss of the normal zonal anatomy (Fig. 16). BT seeds are often seen outside the gland, in the surrounding fat planes and less commonly at the base of the penis. According to Rouvière et al. [8], recurrent foci may be identified on DCE images as early-enhanced nodules. The use of DWI is not well established in the detection of intraglandular recurrence after BT mainly due to local artifacts, but it remains useful in the setting of locally aggressive relapse and bone metastases (Fig. 17, 18).
Fig. 15

Status post-BT. Axial T2WI shows exuberant artifacts that hamper prostatic parenchyma evaluation.

Fig. 16

Images in a 66-year-old man who underwent BT due to PCa (GS 7). PSA decreased from 5.63 to 1.97 ng/mL 1 month after treatment. 2 years later, BF was diagnosed (PSA 13.65 ng/mL). Axial T2WI (A) shows a diffusely hypointense peripheral zone, with some dark spots corresponding to BT seeds, also seen on the ADC map (B). DCE images (C) show non-specific central enhancement. Axial T1WI (D) and T2WI FS (E) demonstrate a left internal iliac node metastasis and a left iliac bone metastasis, respectively (arrows).

Fig. 17

Images in a 50-year-old man after BT due to a PCa (GS 7). 10 years after, BF was detected (PSA 6.2 ng/mL). Axial (A) and sagittal (B) T2WI show an exuberant local recurrence, seen as a huge tumor with extracapsular extension (red arrow) and invasion of the seminal vesicles and rectum (white arrow). Local tumor relapse shows strong restriction on DWI at b 1200 (C) and slightly peripheral enhancement on DCE images (D), probably due to necrosis. Bilateral, inguinal node metastases are also seen on both DWI and DCE images (arrows).

Fig. 18

Images in a 61-year-old man after BT. This patient had a PCa (GS 6) and a BF was detected 6 years after treatment (PSA 2.4 ng/mL). Axial T1WI (A) and T2WI (B) show a pathologic fracture in the posterior column of the left acetabulum, associated with a soft tissue component and cortical disruption (arrows). Edema of the surrounding muscles and acetabulum is seen on T2WI FS (C). Soft tissue component is, respectively, dark and bright on the ADC map (D) and DWI, denoting restriction (E).


In cryosurgery, freezing of the prostate gland is guaranteed by the placement of cryoneedles under TRUS guidance, thermosensors at the level of the external sphincter and bladder neck, and insertion of a urethral warmer. A −40°C temperature is achieved in the mid-gland and at the neurovascular bundle, generally after two freeze–thaw cycles, inducing cell death. Cellular dehydration, rupture of cellular membranes, vascular stasis, and microthrombi are the underlying mechanisms [42, 43, 44, 45].

Potential candidates for cryosurgery are those with low- or intermediate-risk PCa and comorbidities that contraindicate RT or RP. At the time of therapy, prostate gland should be <40 mL, so prior hormonal downsize may be needed [43, 44].

There are no validated criteria for BF after cryotherapy. Some centers consider a PSA cut-off of around 1 ng/mL, which may be combined with a post-treatment biopsy [8, 42, 43].

Data in literature are scarce regarding both normal findings and PCa recurrence after cryosurgery. Similar to EBRT and BT, it is expected to find diffuse hyposignal within the peripheral zone on T2WI (Fig. 19). Some studies like that of Parivar et al. [46] concluded that MRS is superior to TRUS and MRI in detecting recurrence after cryosurgery. To the best of our knowledge, DCE-MRI and DWI have not been widely studied.
Fig. 19

Images in a 72-year-old man who underwent cryotherapy due to PCa (GS 7). 6 years later, BF was detected (PSA 1.27 ng/mL) and patient started HT. Rectal gas artifacts impair axial T2WI (A) reading, but a hypointense nodule may be seen close to the left seminal vesicle (arrow). Coronal T2WI (B) shows a small, diffusely hypointense gland. DCE images (C) better depicts local recurrence, showing three enhanced nodules.

Hormonal therapy

Prostate cells undergo apoptosis when deprived of androgenic stimulation. Testosterone is crucial for growth and perpetuation of tumor cells, so androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) constitutes one of the therapeutic options for PCa. ADT aims to suppress the secretion of testicular androgens (castration) or inhibit the action of circulating androgens at the receptor level (anti-androgens) [10, 47].

Hormonal therapy (HT) is the standard option in metastatic PCa, becoming mandatory if patients are symptomatic. In N + M0, HT also constitutes the standard treatment after extended node dissection if more than 2 positive nodes are found. Symptomatic patients with extensive T3–T4 and high PSA level (>25–50 ng/mL) may also benefit with HT, but not as monotherapy, unless patients are unfit for RT. The use of HT in T1a–T2c localized PCa is limited and only indicated in symptomatic patients who need symptom palliation or are unfit for curative treatment [10].

Many patients undergoing HT were initially diagnosed with either metastatic or locally advanced cancer. In these cases, BF is frequently associated with fast symptomatic progression [48, 49]. Even under HT, it is common to find large tumors with extracapsular extension or invasion of the seminal vesicles on T2WI. Follow-up examinations may show changes in functional sequences, namely increasing ADC value and different dynamic post-gadolinium patterns. However, more studies are needed to validate these findings. HT may also decrease prostatic volume and hamper zonal anatomy depiction on T2WI by decreasing peripheral signal intensity, especially when combined with EBRT or BT (Fig. 20, 21).
Fig. 20

Images in a 61-year-old man. This patient had a PCa (GS 7 and a initial PSA of 9.5 ng/mL) and refused EBRT or RP. HT was started. After 10 years, PSA was 1.38 ng/mL and the patient remained asymptomatic. Axial T2WI (A, B) show a small prostate, with conserved zonal anatomy. In the left apex, a hypointense lesion is found (arrow), with corresponding non-suspicious high signal on the ADC map (C). This lesion demonstrates progressive enhancement on DCE images (D), with type 1 curve (E), probably corresponding to a focal area of inflammation. No local tumor progression was found.

Fig. 21

Images in a 66-year-old man. This patient had a PCa (GS 7 and a initial PSA of 22 ng/mL). HT was started and after 10 months PSA was 0.55 ng/mL. HT was then interrupted and the patient remained asymptomatic. 1 year later, PSA increased to 9.68 ng/mL. Axial T2WI (A) shows a diffusely hypointense, small prostate, with left spiculated contour suggesting extracapsular extension. DCE images (B) demonstrate avid enhancement involving both left central and peripheral gland. Axial T2WI (C) also shows bilateral, external iliac lymph node metastases (arrows). A right perianal abscess is also depicted (red arrow).


Once a post-treatment BF is detected, local or distant recurrence should be recognized. Several studies have already demonstrated the value of mp-MRI in the detection of post-RP and EBRT tumor relapse. The combination of morphological sequences with functional techniques like DCE-MRI and DWI has improved diagnostic accuracy levels and is now widely accepted and used.

Susceptibility magnetic artifacts after BT appear to significantly hamper tumor foci detection within the gland. However, in some non-artifact-hampered exams, mp-MRI might be useful to distinguish between clinically irrelevant PSA bounce and true BF. This issue remains controversial and surely implies further research. Moreover, other studies are also needed to validate the use of mp-MRI in the detection of recurrent PCa after less widespread therapies, like cryosurgery or HIFU.

Even in the assessment of distant metastases, MRI may be used. Despite bone scans and abdominopelvic CT being typically the first choices, both bone and lymph node metastases may be identified on MRI. Particularly in high-risk patients, an MRI protocol including T1WI and STIR sequences is already set as an alternative to bone scans.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • João Lopes Dias
    • 1
    • 5
    • 6
  • Rita Lucas
    • 2
  • João Magalhães Pina
    • 3
    • 6
  • Raquel João
    • 3
    • 6
  • Nuno Vasco Costa
    • 1
    • 6
  • Cecília Leal
    • 4
    • 6
  • Tiago Bilhim
    • 1
    • 6
  • Luís Campos Pinheiro
    • 1
    • 6
  • Rui Mateus Marques
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of RadiologyHospital de S. JoséLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyHospital de Santo António dos CapuchosLisbonPortugal
  3. 3.Department of UrologyHospital de S. JoséLisbonPortugal
  4. 4.Department of RadiologyHospital de Santa MartaLisbonPortugal
  5. 5.LisbonPortugal
  6. 6.Faculdade de Ciências MédicasNova Medica SchoolLisbonPortugal

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