Why Magnetic Resonance Breast Imaging?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may have a role in the detection and management of some breast cancers. Because of their blood supply, breast malignancies typically become brighter more quickly and more intensely than benign tissues on MR images obtained after intravenous injection of a contrast agent (gadolinium).
Many investigators report that breast MRI detects 100% of breast cancers. There are, however, many false positive MR studies in which a benign abnormality mimics a cancer. Additionally, ductal carcinoma-in-situ (the earliest form of breast cancer) is identifiable on MR images in only 50% of patients.
Magnetic resonance has been shown to be the most accurate means of evaluating breast implants for possible complications such as rupture. Its superiority over mammography and ultra sonography lies not only in its ability to provide a cross-sectional view; MRI also provides information about specific tissue characteristics.
Potential, but as-yet unproven, uses for breast MRI include: 1) imaging the “dense breast”, 2) more precisely determining the extent of a cancer, 3) finding the primary tumor in node positive/mammogram negative patients, and 4) assessing for recurrence after lumpectomy.
What can I expect from the examination?
Breast MRI is performed with a dedicated breast imaging coil. The examination requires an intravenous injection of the contrast agent gadolinium but is otherwise painless. The patient lies in the prone position while the images are taken; the examination can usually be completed in approximately 45 minutes.