Breast Imaging - Breast MRI

Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an excellent breast imaging problem solving technology. It is often used to investigate breast concerns that cannot be solved by the combination of mammography and ultrasound.  It is also used for specialized breast imaging applications such as the evaluation of breast implants for possible rupture and leakage.

The FDA has approved breast MRI since 1991 for use as a supplement to mammography to help diagnose breast cancer. Unlike mammography, which uses low dose x-rays to image the breast, MRI uses powerful magnetic fields and radio waves to create images of the breast.

Patients undergoing a breast MRI exam lie face down on the MRI table that is specially configured so that the breasts are positioned through two openings called breast coils. After images have been acquired they are interpreted by members of RIMA’s team of fellowship trained breast imaginers.   Breast MRI is a complex examination and RIMA radiologists utilize computer assisted diagnosis (CAD) to assist them in analysis of the imaging data.

MRI of the breast is not a replacement for mammography or ultrasound imaging but rather a supplemental tool for detecting and staging breast cancer and other breast abnormalities.
Medical studies are currently being conducted to determine whether MRI and other imaging methods can contribute to the early detection and prevention of deaths from breast cancer.

MR imaging of the breast is performed to:
•    assess multiple tumor locations, especially prior to breast conservation surgery.
•    identify early breast cancer not detected through other means, especially in women with dense breast tissue and those at high risk for the disease.
•    evaluate abnormalities detected by mammography or ultrasound.
•    distinguish between scar tissue and recurrent tumors.
•    determine whether cancer detected by mammography, ultrasound, or after surgical biopsy has spread further in the breast or into the chest wall.
•    assess the effect of chemotherapy.
•    provide additional information on a diseased breast to make treatment decisions.
•    determine the integrity of breast implants.

Without contrast material, an MRI of the breast can show:
•    breast tissue density.
•    cysts.
•    enlarged ducts.
•    hematomas.
•    leaking or ruptured breast implants.
•    the presence of enlarged lymph nodes.

By comparing breast images taken before and after contrast material injection, an MRI exam can determine:
•    if there are breast abnormalities.
•    whether an abnormality looks benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
•    the size and location of any abnormality that looks malignant.

Breast Imaging Services: