Preparing for Your Multi-Parametric Prostate Cancer Staging Exam

Before Arriving

  1. Eat a light diet the day before your prostate exam. This means avoiding heavy foods (like a large pasta or steak dinner) or highly spiced foods that can cause digestive disturbances. 
  2. No food for 3 hours before the exam.
  3. Use a Fleet enema (available over the counter and at most pharmacies) one to three hours in advance of the prostate exam. This is a mandatory preparation requirement since feces in the rectum will interfere with the endorectal probe and its imaging sensitivity.
  4. Arrive 60 minutes before your prostate exam to give yourself time to complete the MRI Screening Form (pdf), read and sign the consent form (which is available here to be reviewed at your convenience prior to your appointment - pdf), and change into a patient gown.


If you are concerned about claustrophobia, please review the claustrophobia section of our website. In addition, you may want to consider taking a sedative prescribed by your primary care physician. Bring the medication with you to the appointment. Any sedatives should be taken about a half hour before the start of the exam, or as prescribed by your physician. If possible, we also recommend that patients likely to suffer from claustrophobia during the course of their exam have their exam scheduled at the UCSF Imaging Center at China Basin, where a wide-bore MRI is available. A wide-bore MRI scanner offers more space and allow patients to breath easier. (Read more about Claustrophobia)

Testing For Sensitivity Before Contrast Agent Is Administered

For exams that include contrast, please note that for some patients a creatinine blood test may be required. This test should be taken and the results should be known anytime within six weeks before the Multi-Parametric Prostate Cancer Staging Exam. If necessary, creatinine blood tests can be taken the same day of the prostate cancer staging exam at two of our locations 185 Berry Street location, Lobby 6 Suite 190 and 1855 Fourth Street Suite C1408. Please be sure to come early, at least another extra 30 minutes, especially if you need to go to our other location at 1700 4th Street afterwards. To get the blood test done at a different location before the exam you will need to contact your Primary Care Physician or Urologist for a requisition slip.There is a shuttle that can take you Berry Street to Mission Bay. More information concerning which patients may require this lab test can be found here.

Consent Form

So that you can receive the advanced technology available only at UCSF, we will ask you to sign a consent form (which is available here to be reviewed at your convenience prior to your appointment - pdf). This should be signed the day of your exam, in the presence of one of our staff. That staff member will also be available to discuss the exam with you at greater length and give you an opportunity to ask questions of the radiologist who will be managing your exam.

Safety and Comfort

At the start of the procedure a nurse will gently place a FDA-approved endorectal probe into your rectum. There might be some slight discomfort during insertion.

Patients receiving a contrast agent, such as Gadolinium, may feel a cool sensation upon injection. Approximately one percent or fewer of all patients have a reaction to an injection of Gadolinium. The most common reactions are a mild, brief headache; nausea; vomiting; hives; and/or a sensation of local burning or coldness felt at the injection site.

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