Magnetic resonance breast imaging has been approved by the U.S. FDA since 1991 for use as a supplemental imaging technique to traditional mammography.
Breast MRI is an imaging tool often used to investigate concerns first found on mammography. It is an excellent tool for imaging an augmented breast including the implant and the surrounding tissue. MRI is useful in the staging of cancer that may be obscured by an implant or for use in follow up after breast cancer therapies.
In addition to its role as a diagnostic tool, researchers are investigating the role of breast MRI in younger patients with a strong family cancer history. Women under age 40 do not usually require breast imaging except for those in the high-risk category, which includes family history of breast cancer or a mutated breast cancer gene (BRCA1 or BRCA2). Breast tissue of younger women tends to be more dense and therefore MRI is a better imaging tool for these women.
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A physician's order is required for screening breast ultrasound. Managed care patients also require a referral for certain studies.