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Can Assoc Radiol J. 2005 Dec;56(5):301-8.

Magnetic resonance imaging of the breast: current indications.

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  • 1Centre d'imagerie du sein, Département de radiologie, CHUM, Hôtel-Dieu.


Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) plays an increasing role in the management of selected breast cancer patients. MRI is recognized as the most sensitive modality for the detection of invasive breast cancer. Several valuable clinical applications of MRI have emerged for breast cancer detection and diagnosis from clinical investigations. Breast MRI is helpful for women diagnosed with breast cancer who contemplate breast conserving surgery; it provides valuable information on the extent of the disease. MRI can also help assess for residual invasive cancer in patients who have undergone lumpectomy with positive margins at pathology. It is very reliable in differentiating scar tissue from recurrence at the lumpectomy site. MRI is also reliable in finding a breast cancer in women with axillary nodal metastases and unknown primary tumour. MRI can help to monitor the response to chemotherapy. Breast MRI could be a better screening tool than mammography in women with very high risks of developing breast cancer, such as breast cancer gene carriers and patients treated with chest radiation. Other potential uses of MRI include evaluation of the integrity of silicone breast implants and evaluation of the parenchyma in women with silicone gel implants or free injection of silicone gel. However, like any other technique, breast MRI has some drawbacks, including low-to-moderate specificity, high costs, and variability in technique and interpretation. Radiologists must have a clear understanding of valid indications and selection criteria to use this technique appropriately.

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