Breast MRI

Breast MRI: A Comprehensive Guide

Breast MRI: A Comprehensive Guide with FAQs and Normal Range

Breast MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a non-invasive imaging technique that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of the breast tissues. It is commonly used for the detection and diagnosis of breast cancer and is also used for monitoring treatment response.

In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide to breast MRI, including frequently asked questions and normal range for breast MRI findings.

What is Breast MRI?

Breast MRI is an imaging technique that uses a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to generate detailed images of the breast tissue. The images produced by a breast MRI are highly detailed, making it easier for healthcare providers to detect abnormalities in the breast tissue.

How is Breast MRI performed?

During a breast MRI, the patient lies on a table that slides into a large tube-like machine. The machine creates a magnetic field around the breast, which aligns the protons in the body. Radio waves are then sent through the breast tissue, which causes the protons to emit signals that are detected by the MRI machine. These signals are then used to create detailed images of the breast tissue.

Is Breast MRI safe?

Breast MRI is considered safe for most people. However, there are a few factors that may make the procedure unsafe for some individuals. For example, patients with certain types of metal implants, such as pacemakers, may not be able to undergo a breast MRI.

What are the benefits of Breast MRI?

Breast MRI has several benefits over other imaging techniques, such as mammography and ultrasound. Some of the benefits of breast MRI include:

  • Higher sensitivity for detecting breast cancer compared to other imaging techniques.
  • Ability to detect breast cancer at an early stage.
  • Ability to detect small breast tumors that may not be visible on mammography or ultrasound.
  • Ability to provide a more accurate assessment of the size and extent of breast cancer.

What are the limitations of Breast MRI?

While breast MRI has several benefits, it also has some limitations. Some of the limitations of breast MRI include:

  • High cost compared to other imaging techniques.
  • Longer exam time compared to other imaging techniques.
  • The need for an injection of contrast material, which can cause allergic reactions in some patients.
  • The need for patients to lie still for an extended period of time, which can be difficult for some patients.

What is Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS)?

Breast MRI results are typically reported using the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS). The BI-RADS assessment categories range from 0-6, with 0 indicating the need for additional imaging and 6 indicating a confirmed diagnosis of breast cancer. The normal range for Breast MRI is typically BI-RADS category 1 or 2, which means no suspicious findings or benign findings.

The following table summarizes the BI-RADS assessment categories:

BI-RADS Category Assessment
0 Incomplete evaluation; additional imaging needed
1 Negative
2 Benign findings
3 Probably benign; short-term follow-up suggested
4 Suspicious abnormality; biopsy considered
5 Highly suggestive of malignancy; appropriate action should be taken
6 Known biopsy-proven malignancy

References:

American Cancer Society. Breast MRI. Accessed on March 21, 2023, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/breast-magnetic-resonance-imaging-mri.html.

American College of Radiology. BI-RADS® Atlas, 5th Edition. Reston, VA: American College of Radiology, 2013.

National Breast Cancer Foundation. Breast MRI. Accessed on March 21, 2023, from https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-diagnosis/breast-mri.

National Cancer Institute. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Accessed on March 21, 2023, from https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/magnetic-resonance-imaging.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) Safety. Accessed on March 21, 2023, from https://www.fda.gov/radiation-emitting-products/mri-magnetic-resonance-imaging/mri-magnetic-resonance-imaging-safety.

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