Novel non-MRI imaging techniques for primary diagnosis of prostate cancer: micro-ultrasound, contrast-enhanced ultrasound, elastography, multiparametric ultrasound, and PSMA PET/CT

Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis. 2024 Mar;27(1):29-36. doi: 10.1038/s41391-023-00708-9. Epub 2023 Aug 5.


Background: Multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging (mpMRI) provides enhanced diagnostic accuracy in the detection of prostate cancer, but is not devoid of limitations. Given the recent evolution of non-MRI imaging techniques, this critical review of the literature aimed at summarizing the available evidence on ultrasound-based and nuclear medicine imaging technologies in the initial diagnosis of PCa.

Methods: Three databases (PubMed®, Web of Science™, and Scopus®) were queried for studies examining their diagnostic performance in the primary diagnosis of PCa, weighted against a histological confirmation of PCa diagnosis, using a free-text protocol. Retrospective and prospective studies, both comparative and non-comparative, systematic reviews (SR) and meta-analysis (MA) were included. Based on authors' expert opinion, studies were selected, data extracted, and results qualitatively described.

Results: Micro-ultrasound (micro-US) appears as an appealing diagnostic strategy given its high accuracy in detection of PCa, apparently non-inferior to mpMRI. The use of multiparametric US (mpUS) likely gives an advantage in terms of effectiveness coming from the combination of different modalities, especially when certain modalities are combined. Prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) PET/CT may represent a whole-body, one-step approach for appropriate diagnosis and staging of PCa. The direct relationship between lesions avidity of radiotracers and histopathologic and prognostic features, and its valid diagnostic performance represents appealing characteristics. However, intrinsic limits of each of these techniques exist and further research is needed before definitively considering them reliable tools for accurate PCa diagnosis. Other novel technologies, such as elastography and multiparametric US, currently relies on a limited number of studies, and therefore evidence about them remains preliminary.

Conclusion: Evidence on the role of non-MRI imaging options in the primary diagnosis of PCa is steadily building up. This testifies a growing interest towards novel technologies that might allow overcoming some of the limitations of current gold standard MRI imaging.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Elasticity Imaging Techniques*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography / methods
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies