Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Breast

Christopher P. Goscin, BS, College of Medicine at the University of South Florida; Claudia G. Berman, MD, Robert A. Clark, MD, Radiology Service at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, Tampa, Fl

Cancer Control. 2001;8(5) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Background: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has the potential to become a useful adjunct in breast imaging. Contrast-enhanced breast MRI has demonstrated a high sensitivity in the detection of invasive breast cancer. In clinical studies, breast MRI has often altered the course of patient care. Although promising results have been generated, MRI of the breast is currently in a development stage.
Methods: The authors reviewed the literature on the potential indications, sensitivity, specificity, and limitations of MRI of the breast.
Results: Reported advantages of MRI of the breast over conventional imaging techniques include improved staging and treatment planning, enhanced evaluation of the augmented breast, better detection of recurrence, and improved screening of high-risk women. Contrast-enhanced breast MRI is a sensitive modality for detecting breast cancer, but its variable specificity is a major limitation.
Conclusions: MRI of the breast is emerging as a valuable adjunct to mammography and sonography for specific clinical indications. Additional clinical studies that define indications, interpretation criteria, imaging parameters, and cost effectiveness are needed. A multi-institutional study designed to address these issues is in progress.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the breast is a useful adjunct to mammography and sonography when specific clinical indications exist.[1,2,3] Potential indications for breast MRI include staging and treatment planning, evaluating palpable masses in the silicone augmented breast, detecting recurrent cancer in the posttreatment breast, identifying a clinically or mammographically occult primary tumor in the patient presenting with axillary breast cancer, evaluating the response to chemotherapy, screening in high-risk women including those who are positive for

BRCA1 and BRCA2, and evaluating cases of indeterminate mammographic findings including cases obscured by radiographically dense breasts.[1,2,3,4] An ongoing international, multi-institutional study may offer standardized clinical indications for MRI of the breast and standardized interpretation criteria for breast MR images.[3] Although there is no evidence to support MRI of the breast as a routine screening tool, published studies have evaluated MRI as a diagnostic tool for certain clinical indications.[3] This article reviews these clinical indications, addresses the sensitivity and specificity of MRI of the breast, and discusses some of the limitations of MRI of the breast.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.
Post as: