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Cancer Control. 2001 Sep-Oct;8(5):399-406.

Magnetic resonance imaging of the breast.

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  • 1College of Medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, USA.



Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has the potential to become a useful adjunct in breast imaging. Contrast-enhanced breast MRI has demonstrated a high sensitivity in the detection of invasive breast cancer. In clinical studies, breast MRI has often altered the course of patient care. Although promising results have been generated, MRI of the breast is currently in a development stage.


The authors reviewed the literature on the potential indications, sensitivity, specificity, and limitations of MRI of the breast.


Reported advantages of MRI of the breast over conventional imaging techniques include improved staging and treatment planning, enhanced evaluation of the augmented breast, better detection of recurrence, and improved screening of high-risk women. Contrast-enhanced breast MRI is a sensitive modality for detecting breast cancer, but its variable specificity is a major limitation.


MRI of the breast is emerging as a valuable adjunct to mammography and sonography for specific clinical indications. Additional clinical studies that define indications, interpretation criteria, imaging parameters, and cost effectiveness are needed. A multi-institutional study designed to address these issues is in progress.

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