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.
MR Imaging of the breast is performed to:
- evaluate abnormalities detected by mammography
- identify early breast cancer not detected through other means, especially in women with dense breast tissue and those at high risk for the disease.
- screen for cancer in women who have implants or scar tissue that might jeopardize an accurate result from a mammogram.
- determine the integrity of breast implants.
- distinguish between scar tissue and recurrent tumors.
- assess multiple tumor locations.
- look for multiple tumors prior to breast conservation surgery.
- determine whether cancer detected by mammography or ultrasound has spread further in the breast or into the chest wall.
- determine how much cancer has spread beyond the surgical site after a breast biopsy or lumpectomy.
- provide additional information on a diseased breast to make treatment decisions.
Without contrast material, an MRI of the breast can show:
- breast tissue density.
- enlarged ducts
- leaking or ruptured breast implants
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.
- the presence of enlarged lymph nodes.
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