Breast MRI

MRI of the breast is a well-established technique for evaluating breast lesions.

An injected contrast agent – Gadolinium linked to a complex, biologically safe molecule (Gadolinium for short) – is used in this technique. The Gadolinium leaks from any new, tiny blood vessels. These occur in rapidly growing tissue, such as cancer. With this contrast-enhanced MRI, virtually all breast cancers enhance (that is, become brighter due to the leaked Gadolinium).

MRI is highly sensitive to the presence of cancer, so it has excellent potential to help patients when we are unsure of the diagnosis or if we have not been able to exclude or confirm the presence of cancer. Many of these enhancing lesions need to be further assessed by percutaneous biopsy.

Sometimes lesions cannot be detected by any other means than MRI, including examination by a breast surgeon, mammography, or ultrasound. In this situation, to biopsy the correct spot, it is necessary to perform the biopsy after being guided to that spot by a short repeat MRI study.

Breast MRI will often demonstrate the extent of breast cancer before surgery more accurately than other imaging techniques. Its use may minimise the need for repeated operations in some patients. MRI is a complementary investigation of breast problems. It does not replace clinical examination or other means of investigation such as mammography or breast ultrasound. The previous investigations and their results must be available to correlate with the findings of the MRI study. Please ensure that you bring previous examinations of the breasts to the MRI examination.

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