University Hospital is 1st in N.J. to offer 3D ultrasound-MRI fusion technology for prostate biopsy

University Hospital in Newark and Rutgers New Jersey Medical School said they partnered to bring the first 3D ultrasound-MRI fusion technology to New Jersey for prostate biopsy procedure.

The procedure is part of the continuing effort to bring the advanced diagnostic procedures and technology to Essex County and the surrounding area. Physicians at University Hospital have introduced the procedure to its extensive list of innovative resources used for diagnosing cancer.

A 3-D ultrasound virtual reconstruction of the prostate during a transperineal biopsy of the prostate. The areas of color are targets that were identified on MRI as suspicious for cancer. Each peg (represented by green and yellow dots) represents a biopsy. (University Hospital)

While prostate biopsies have traditionally been completed via the rectum, which has historically deterred some men from scheduling routine prostate exams, transperineal biopsy has gained popularity due to its superior ability to collect a better cross-section of tissue samples with an inherently lower rate of infection following the procedure, while avoiding the rectum.

“University Hospital and Rutgers New Jersey Medical School are excited to bring this innovative approach to routine prostate biopsies to our patients,” Mary Maples, interim CEO and president of University Hospital, stated. “We know that men in Essex County experience one of the highest levels of prostate cancer as compared to the rest of the state. If detected and addressed early, we also know that this condition is treatable.”

A prostate cancer biopsy is a minor urologic procedure used to detect cancer. The procedure removes tiny pieces of tissue from the prostate gland, which are examined under a microscope.

A pathologist will examine the tissue samples for any cancer cells. The prostate specific antigen blood test and digital rectal examination are two tests used to screen for prostate cancer, and the decision to have a biopsy is based on the results of these tests. Doctors will also consider family history of prostate cancer, ethnicity, biopsy history and other health factors, but the prostate biopsy remains the gold standard for accurate diagnosis of prostate cancer.

The TP technique enables the physician to collect the tissue samples via the perineum, the skin area between the testicles and the rectum, and can be performed under general or local anesthesia. Tissue samples are taken systematically under ultrasound guidance, utilizing the MRI-based fusion technology to better target the prostate, and potential problem areas, for sample and analysis.

“With our transperineal approach to prostate biopsies, we add MRI targeting to the procedure that has demonstrated positive contributions to overall cancer detection,” said Dr. Evan Kovac, associate professor and member of the Department of Surgery, Division of Urology, at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and a member of the University Hospital medical staff. “We believe that this new transperineal, MRI-targeted approach will improve prostate cancer diagnosis for our patients, while reducing the chance of infection. With the new approach, we can actually improve the sampling at the front of the prostate, where traditional transrectal prostate biopsy has limited reach, therefore improving our access to a larger portion of the prostate.”

For this same-day procedure, University Hospital has also partnered with Perineologic, makers of the PrecisionPoint device. Using PrecisionPoint, the doctor will guide the biopsy needle through the perineum and into the prostate, collecting, on average, between 20 and 30 samples with just a single skin puncture. For patients, the procedure is quicker than traditional approaches, allows for more precise targeting of the prostate, offers the potential for less patient discomfort, and generally presents a lower risk of post-procedure infection and complications.