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Role of MRI of the breast in the evaluation of the symptomatic patient

Van Goethem, Mireille; Verslegers, Inge; Biltjes, Isabelle; Hufkens, Godelieve; Parizel, Paul M

Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology: February 2009 - Volume 21 - Issue 1 - p 74–79
doi: 10.1097/GCO.0b013e328321e45e
Breast cancer: Edited by Robert W. Carlson

Purpose of review The role of MRI in breast pathology is still controversial. The technique has a high sensitivity for detection of breast carcinoma, but specificity is low. Therefore, it is only useful for right indications.

Recent findings Studies are still performed to define the role of MRI. For diagnosis of a breast lesion, image-guided percutaneous core biopsy is the method of choice, and MRI is not indicated. It has a place in the detection of carcinoma in patients with nipple discharge. MRI has a role in the search of an occult primary breast carcinoma in patients with metastasis and primary unknown cancer. MRI is the best technique for locoregional staging of breast carcinoma. Its role in detection of recurrence is controversial, as image-guided biopsy has to be done if a suspicious lesion is seen. In dense breasts or difficult scar formation, MRI is able to detect recurrence. MRI is sensitive in detection of implant rupture in symptomatic augmented patients.

Summary MRI has a role in well defined indications, but its role is still controversial even in some of these indications. MRI is not indicated in diagnosis in which image-guided percutaneous biopsy is the method of choice. Further studies must be performed.

Department of Radiology, University Hospital Antwerp, Edegem-Antwerpen, Belgium

Correspondence to Mireille Van Goethem, Department of Radiology, University Hospital Antwerp, Wilrijkstraat 10, 2650 Edegem-Antwerpen, Belgium Tel: +32 38213533; e-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.