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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2017 Jun;208(6):1392-1399. doi: 10.2214/AJR.16.16730.

Utility of BI-RADS Assessment Category 4 Subdivisions for Screening Breast MRI.

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1 Department of Radiology, University of Wisconsin, 600 Highland Ave, Madison, WI 53792-3252.
2 Department of Medical Physics, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI.
3 Carbone Cancer Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI.



BI-RADS for mammography and ultrasound subdivides category 4 assessments by likelihood of malignancy into categories 4A (> 2% to ≤ 10%), 4B (> 10% to ≤ 50%), and 4C (> 50% to < 95%). Category 4 is not subdivided for breast MRI because of a paucity of data. The purpose of the present study is to determine the utility of categories 4A, 4B, and 4C for MRI by calculating their positive predictive values (PPVs) and comparing them with BI-RADS-specified rates of malignancy for mammography and ultrasound.


All screening breast MRI examinations performed from July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2013, were included in this study. We identified in medical records prospectively assigned MRI BI-RADS categories, including category 4 subdivisions, which are used routinely in our practice. Benign versus malignant outcomes were determined by pathologic analysis, findings from 12 months or more clinical or imaging follow-up, or a combination of these methods. Distribution of BI-RADS categories and positive predictive value level 2 (PPV2; based on recommendation for tissue diagnosis) for categories 4 (including its subdivisions) and 5 were calculated.


Of 860 screening breast MRI examinations performed for 566 women (mean age, 47 years), 82 with a BI-RADS category 4 assessment were identified. A total of 18 malignancies were found among 84 category 4 and 5 assessments, for an overall PPV2 of 21.4% (18/84). For category 4 subdivisions, PPV2s were as follows: for category 4A, 2.5% (1/40); for category 4B, 27.6% (8/29); for category 4C, 83.3% (5/6); and for category 4 (not otherwise specified), 28.6% (2/7).


Category 4 subdivisions for MRI yielded malignancy rates within BI-RADS-specified ranges, supporting their use for benefits to patient care and more meaningful practice audits.


BI-RADS category 4; breast MRI

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