MRI has two major roles in breast imaging:
Northside Hospital and Northside Radiology Associates, P.C. are proud to have one of the few imaging programs in Georgia to offer MRI for breast cancer evaluation. MRI uses strong magnets and radio waves to image tissues from multiple angles and create very detailed images. No radiation is used.
Recent technical advances have made it possible to focus MRI on the breast to help detect and stage cancer. Contrast is injected intravenously to highlight abnormal areas and calculations of blood flow patters are made to determine if a tumor is present. MRI is not limited by dense tissue, scars, implants, and other factors which sometimes can interfere with seeing cancers on mammograms.
Studies have shown MRI to be almost 100% sensitive for detecting invasive breast cancers. It is proving to be an excellent tool for evaluating patients diagnosed with breast cancer – to help with surgical planning, follow up patients on chemotherapy, and evaluate for possible recurrence. However, it also highlights many types of findings which are not cancer. Because of this, patients may need to have additional tests, follow up MRI, or even biopsy to clear an area.
So far, little research has been done to evaluate MRI for cancer screening. It has shown promising results in very high risk patients such as those with known defects in breast cancer genes, as a complement to mammography and physical exam. It has not been evaluated for routine screening of most patients and is not currently recommended for general screening due to a lack of research, high cost, the requirement for an IV, and the number of “false alarms” it can cause.
We perform breast MRI evaluations at the Northside Hospital main campus using a dedicated breast coil and high resolution imaging sequences (much higher than those of most systems). Please feel free to contact Dr. Lynn D. Baxter or Dr. James F. Zakem at the Northside Hospital Breast Care Center for further information.
MRI is the study of choice to evaluate silicone breast implants for leaks or ruptures. It is a painless procedure, which uses no radiation. It is performed in a similar fashion to breast cancer MRI. However, no intravenous contrast is needed for implant evaluation. Various sequences can be used to identify exactly where silicone is located and whether or not the implant has collapsed. This can help patients and their surgeons plan appropriate therapy and help decide whether or not an implant should be replaced.