What is magnetic resonance mammography (breast MRI)?

Updated: Feb 25, 2019
  • Author: Preeti Gupta, MD, FRCR; Chief Editor: Eugene C Lin, MD  more...
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Answer

Breast MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), also known as magnetic resonance mammography, is a noninvasive technique for imaging the breasts. It creates high-quality images of the breasts and has better sensitivity and specificity for detection of breast cancer than the other currently available technologies. Breast MRI is also used in evaluation of integrity of breast implants. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]

(See the images below.)

MRI: A, Non-fat saturation T1 weighted image showi MRI: A, Non-fat saturation T1 weighted image showing a T1 hypointense mass in the far lateral posterior aspect of the right breast. B, Fat-saturation T1 weighted dynamic (first pass) image shows the typical appearance of an invasive ductal carcinoma with intense early enhancement within 2 minutes of the injection of contrast material. The spiculated margin is characteristic of malignancy. The biopsy clip is seen as a signal void within the mass.
MRI: A, Non-fat saturation T1 weighted image showi MRI: A, Non-fat saturation T1 weighted image showing a T1 hypointense mass in the far lateral posterior aspect of the right breast. B, Fat-saturation T1 weighted dynamic (first pass) image shows the typical appearance of an invasive ductal carcinoma with intense early enhancement within 2 minutes of the injection of contrast material. The spiculated margin is characteristic of malignancy. The biopsy clip is seen as a signal void within the mass.
3D thick-slab maximum intensity projection (MIP) M 3D thick-slab maximum intensity projection (MIP) MRI shows 4 lesions with ductal enhancement extending to the retroareolar region. Lesions A, B, and C were in a line, with lesion D lying higher and more central. All lesions and the retroareolar ductal enhancement were confirmed to be malignant at mastectomy.

In ongoing research, including the EA1141 Trial, an abbreviated-protocol breast MRI is being investigated as a lower-cost method than traditional full diagnostic protocol breast MRI, while maintaining sensitivity and specificity for breast cancer. [8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]

See Breast Cancer for complete information on this topic.


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