Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the Breast

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the breast uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed pictures of the structures within the breast. It is primarily used as a supplemental tool to breast screening with mammography or ultrasound. It may be used to screen women at high risk for breast cancer, evaluate the extent of cancer following diagnosis, or further evaluate abnormalities seen on mammography. Breast MRI does not use ionizing radiation, and it is the best method for determining whether silicone breast implants have ruptured.
  • The magnetic field is not harmful, but it may cause some medical devices to malfunction. Most orthopedic implants pose no risk, but you should always tell the technologist if you have any devices or metal in your body. Guidelines about eating and drinking before your exam vary between facilities. Unless you are told otherwise, take your regular medications as usual. Leave jewelry at home and wear loose, comfortable clothing. You may be asked to wear a gown. If you have claustrophobia or anxiety, you may want to ask your doctor for a mild sedative prior to the exam. 

What is MRI of the Breast?

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive test used to diagnose medical conditions.
  • MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed pictures of internal body structures. MRI does not use radiation (x-rays).
  • Detailed MR images allow doctors to examine the body and detect disease. The images can be reviewed on a computer monitor. They may also be sent electronically, printed or copied to a CD, or uploaded to a digital cloud server.
  • MRI of the breast offers valuable information about many breast conditions that cannot be obtained by other imaging modalities, such as mammography or ultrasound.

What are some common uses of the procedure?

  • MRI of the breast is not a replacement for mammography or ultrasound imaging but rather a supplemental tool that has many important uses, including:
  • Screening in women at high risk for breast cancer:
    • For women at high risk for breast cancer, typically because of a strong family history, MRI may be an appropriate tool to screen for breast cancer. A strong family history is usually a mother or sister who has had breast cancer before age 50. It can also be aunts or cousins, including those on your father’s side. Relatives who have had ovarian cancer also increase your risk. Your radiologist or primary care doctor can look at your family history and determine if screening MRI may be appropriate for you. Depending on your family history, genetic counseling may also be recommended.
  • Determining the extent of cancer after a new diagnosis of breast cancer :
    • After being diagnosed with breast cancer, a breast MRI may be performed to determine: 
      • how large the cancer is and whether it involves the underlying muscle.
      • if there are other cancers in the same breast and whether there is an unsuspected cancer in the opposite breast.
      • if there are any abnormally large lymph nodes in the armpit, which can be a sign the cancer has spread to that site.
  • Further evaluating hard-to-assess abnormalities seen on mammography:
    • Sometimes an abnormality seen on a mammogram cannot be adequately evaluated by additional mammography and ultrasound alone. In these rare cases, MRI can be used to definitively determine if the abnormality needs biopsy or can safely be left alone.
  • Evaluating lumpectomy sites in the years following breast cancer treatment:
    • Scarring and recurrent cancer can look identical on mammography and ultrasound. If a change in a lumpectomy scar is detected by either mammography or a physical exam, MRI can help determine whether the change is normal maturation of the scar or a recurrence of the cancer.
  • Following chemotherapy treatment in patients receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy:
    • In some cases, breast cancer will be treated with chemotherapy before it has been removed by surgery. This is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy. In these cases, MRI is often used to monitor how well the chemotherapy is working and to reevaluate the amount of tumor still present before the surgery is performed.
  • Evaluating breast implants:
    • MRI is the best test for determining whether silicone implants have ruptured.

#Arrangoiz #CancerSurgeon #BreastSurgeon #SurgicalOncologist #BreastMRI #BreastCancer #CASO #CenterforAdvancedSurgicalOncology #PalmettoGeneralHospital

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