Silicone breast implants have the potential to interfere with mammography through a variety of different mechanisms. One important factor is the radiopacity of the implant. A comparison was made of the effect of six different implant filler materials on visualization of known breast lesions in a living subject. The materials studied were normal saline, a triglyceride solution, silicone gel, a solution of 50% polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) in saline, a solution of 10% PVP in saline, and a solution of 2.5% PVP in glycerine. The ease with which known breast lesions could be identified through different materials varied dramatically. The poorest visualization was through the silicone gel-filled implant. The best visualization was through the prosthesis containing a triglyceride solution. Physical density, atomic number, and electron density are the factors which determine the radiopacity of materials used to fabricate breast implants. Radiopacity, in turn, affects the ease with which breast lesions can be imaged in vivo. The radiologic characteristics of filler materials will be an important consideration in the design of future breast implants.
©1993American Society of Plastic Surgeons