Region’s First MRI-Fusion Biopsy Platform Arrives at St. Joe’s

Equipment was 100 per cent funded by donors and offers safer, more accurate prostate cancer diagnoses for patients

Patients in Hamilton and throughout the Ontario West health region will now have access to a faster, safer, and more accurate diagnosis of prostate cancer thanks to the arrival of a new piece of diagnostic imaging technology at St. Joe’s. The Hospital is home to the region’s first Magnetic Resonance Imaging-Ultrasound (MRI-US) Biopsy System – and it was funded entirely through donations from our generous community.

MRI-US Biopsy brings together the high-resolution accuracy of an MRI with the localization capabilities of an ultrasound to create matched 3-D images of the prostate. It helps radiologists to better identify aggressive cancers with the potential to spread, and differentiate them from lower-risk lesions that can safely go untreated. It’s considered the new standard of care in prostate cancer surveillance and diagnosis, but the funding St. Joe’s receives from the government doesn’t cover the cost of the technology.

That’s why, over the past year, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation has been working with the community to raise more than $300,000 to help the Hospital purchase this much-needed piece of equipment. Several grateful patients, donors and community groups made donations to the campaign, while local businessmen Gabe Macaluso, Matteo Sacco and Stefano Girgenti hosted a concert fundraiser featuring former Glass Tiger frontman Alan Frew in February 2022 that raised an additional $60,000 for the cause.

Dr. Bobby Shayegan is a Urologist and the Deputy Chief of Surgery at St. Joe’s. He’s also one of the country’s top urologic robotic surgeons. Dr. Shayegan says MRI-US Biopsies will improve the detection of high-risk prostate cancers while decreasing the number of unnecessary and repeat biopsies performed. “A traditional biopsy surveys tissues from across the entire prostate and repeat biopsies are often needed to ensure nothing of clinical significance gets missed,” explains Dr. Shayegan. “But with the accuracy of an MRI-US fusion biopsy, our teams can pinpoint suspicious lesions and target biopsies to only the areas of concern. The result is faster, more accurate diagnoses, and less invasive testing.”

The MRI-US Biopsy approach isn’t just better, it’s safer for patients, too. That’s because the new platform will allow St. Joe’s to replace the use of Transrectal Ultrasound Biopsies (TRUS) with Transperineal Ultrasound Biopsies (TPUS), a procedure that nearly eliminates the possibility of side effects like infection or sepsis.

“In patients considered for prostate biopsy, performing MRI may reduce the need for biopsy by up to 25 per cent. A transperineal approach with the MRI-US System will also greatly reduce the risk of post-procedure bleeding and infection among patients. While incidences of infection are already low, anything we can do to lower those rates further and keep our patients safer is always our top priority. We are extremely grateful to our donors and the Foundation for making this happen,” says Dr. Colm Boylan, Chief of Diagnostic Imaging at St. Joe’s.

The MRI-US Biopsy System arrived at St. Joe’s in mid-June and training for radiologists and surgeons is already underway. The first patient scans are scheduled to begin in July. Having this technology at St. Joe’s means that patients who require this specialized scan will no longer need to be referred to cancer centres outside of the region in Toronto or London, as those referrals can lengthen wait times for care. Bringing MRI-US Biopsy Technology to St. Joe’s is part of the Hospital’s long-term plan to create a centre of excellence in prostate cancer care at the Hospital, building on the reputation of its renowned Institute for Urology.

“The funding St. Joe’s receives from the government doesn’t always cover the cost of equipment like this,” says Sera Filice-Armenio, President & CEO, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation. “That’s why our Foundation exists. By working with generous grateful patients and community members, we’re able to raise funds for projects with the power to improve the lives of the people of our region. We’re grateful to everyone who helped to bring the MRI-US Biopsy System to St. Joe’s, as their gifts are helping those facing a prostate cancer diagnosis get the answers and the care they need.”