Purpose: To provide a brief summary of important technical and biochemical aspects and current clinical applications of magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) of the prostate.
Material and methods: Pertinent radiological and biochemical literature was searched and retrieved via electronic media (Medline, PubMed). Basic concepts of MRS of the prostate and its clinical applications were extracted to provide an overview.
Results: The prostate lends itself to MRS due to its unique production, storage, and secretion of citrate. While healthy prostate tissue demonstrates high levels of citrate and low levels of choline that marks cell wall turnover, prostate cancer (PCA) utilizes citrate for energy metabolism and shows high levels of choline. The ratio of (choline + creatine)/citrate differentiates healthy prostate tissue and PCA. The combination of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and 3-dimensional MRS (3D-MRSI or 3D-CSI) of the prostate localizes PCA to a sextant of the peripheral zone of the prostate with sensitivity/specificity of up to 80/80%. Combined MRI and 3D-MRSI exceed the sensitivity and specificity of sextant biopsy of the prostate. When MRS and MRI agree on PCA presence, the positive predictive value is about 90%. In principle, combined MRI and 3D-MRSI recognize and localize remnant or recurrent cancer after hormone therapy, radiation therapy and cryo-surgery.
Conclusions: Since it is non-invasive and radiation-free, combined MRI and 3D-MRSI lends itself to the planning of prostate biopsy and therapy as well as to post-therapeutic follow-up. For broad clinical application, it will be necessary to facilitate MRS examinations and their evaluation and make MRS available to a wider range of institutions.