2 Reasons for a Breast MRI
Just as with mammography, breast MRI can be divided into screening and diagnostic exams – screening breast MRI is used to evaluate women with elevated risk of breast cancer particularly in women with dense breast tissue.
A diagnostic breast MRI is used to further evaluate patients with breast signs or symptoms following routine breast imaging or in patients with a known or prior breast cancer diagnosis.
Breast MRI technology is wonderful for its finely tuned sensitivity as well as its lack of radiation. To evaluate the breast tissue for cancer requires imaging during and after the injection of MRI gadolinium contrast. While MRIs are highly sensitive, they do not detect every cancer, so they are used in conjunction with mammography. One does not replace the other!
When screening a patient who is high risk, whether from family history, prior chest radiation exposure or from a syndrome, a breast MRI may be used in addition to routine breast imaging with mammography. It is helpful to schedule the exams 6 months apart, so that breast screening is being performed by some means every 6 months.
When doing a diagnostic assessment, looking for the extent of a breast cancer is a common indication, although may not be necessary for every new breast cancer diagnosis. Diagnostic breast MRI may be needed in breast cancer survivors to look for new disease or to confirm that an opacity in a mammogram is a scar and not a recurrence. Before a surgery or after chemotherapy, an MRI can be helpful in defining the parameters of a lesion so that surgery can be more precise. At times, breast MRI is needed to further problem solve a finding on mammography and breast ultrasound.
Breast MRI without the contrast material injection is a sensitive means of evaluating the integrity of breast implants. This does not include an evaluation of the breast tissue, but is done to look at the implant and potential complications. Regardless of the reason a woman may require a breast MRI, trust that this excellent piece of technology has the capacity to assist along the road to best possible health!
Originally published 7/10/14 on mammographykc.com.