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Radiology. 1997 Sep;204(3):661-6.

Fine-needle biopsy specimens of benign breast lesions distinguished from invasive cancer ex vivo with proton MR spectroscopy.

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Institute for Magnetic Resonance Research, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.



To determine whether invasive breast cancer can be distinguished from benign lesions with proton magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy ex vivo on the basis of altered cellular chemistry.


Two hundred eighteen fine-needle biopsy specimens were obtained in 191 patients undergoing surgery and were analyzed with proton MR spectroscopy. MR spectroscopic and histopathologic findings were compared.


Invasive carcinoma produced increased signal at 3.25 ppm, attributable to choline-containing metabolites. Discrimination between invasive carcinoma (n = 82), benign lesions (n = 106), or carcinoma in situ (n = 17) was based on the resonance intensity at 3.25 ppm standardized to the resonance at 3.05 ppm (P < .001). The ratio of peak height intensities of resonances at 3.25 to those at 3.05 ppm was less than 1.7 in 102 of the 106 normal or benign lesions. All carcinoma in situ specimens with comedonecrosis or a microinvasive component (n = 6) were categorized at MR spectroscopy with invasive carcinoma, while others with in situ disease alone were categorized with benign lesions (n = 11). The sensitivity and specificity of MR spectroscopy in fine-needle biopsy specimens in distinguishing benign lesions from invasive cancer were 95% and 96%, respectively.


Proton MR spectroscopy of fine-needle biopsy specimens provides objective diagnostic information that complements findings of conventional preoperative investigations of breast lesions.

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