MR imaging of the prostate gland: normal anatomy

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1987 Jan;148(1):51-8. doi: 10.2214/ajr.148.1.51.


MR images of the male pelvis in 55 subjects were analyzed retrospectively for depiction of the zonal anatomy of the prostate gland as related to different repetition (TR) and echo (TE) times, slice thickness, plane of imaging, chronologic age of the patient, and different magnetic field strengths. With imagers operating at 0.35 and 1.5 T, T2-based tissue-contrast images were needed for the demonstration of the internal anatomy of the prostate gland. The display of zonal anatomy was improved when continuous 0.5-cm slices were used. Evaluating sequential sections, the peripheral, central, and transition zones could be differentiated. The peripheral zone showed higher signal intensity than either the central or transition zone and was discerned in the coronal, sagittal, and transverse planes. The central zone was of low signal intensity and was well displayed in the coronal and sagittal planes. The central zone was seen in 31 of the 32 young men (aged 25-35 years) but in only eight of the 23 older men (aged 40 years and older). The transition zone had intrinsic MR parameters similar to the central zone, and the two could be distinguished from each other only by the knowledge of their respective anatomic location. The low-intensity transition zone blended with the periurethral glands and the preprostatic sphincter. The transition zone was of homogeneous low signal intensity in young men but varied in size and signal intensity in older men. Such a detailed display of the prostate zonal anatomy offers a unique potential for the evaluation of prostatic physiology and disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prostate / anatomy & histology*