Breast carcinoma: effect of preoperative contrast-enhanced MR imaging on the therapeutic approach

Radiology. 1999 Dec;213(3):881-8. doi: 10.1148/radiology.213.3.r99dc01881.


Purpose: To determine if magnetic resonance (MR) imaging can help determine the therapeutic approach in women with breast cancer.

Materials and methods: Preoperative contrast-enhanced MR imaging of the breast was performed in 463 patients with probably benign lesions (n = 63), suspicious lesions (n = 230), or lesions highly suggestive of malignancy (n = 170) per established clinical, mammographic, and/or ultrasonographic (US) criteria. T1-weighted fast low-angle shot MR imaging was performed before and after administration of gadopenetetate dimeglumine. MR imaging findings were correlated with other imaging results and histopathologic findings. Special attention was paid to multifocality and multicentricity.

Results: Histopathologic analysis revealed 143 benign and 405 malignant lesions. The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy were 58%, 76%, and 62% for clinical examination; 86%, 32%, and 72% for conventional mammography; 75%, 80%, and 76% for US; and 93%, 65%, and 85% for contrast-enhanced MR imaging. Multifocality in 30 of 42 patients, multicentricity in 24 of 50 patients, and additional contralateral carcinomas in 15 of 19 patients were depicted with MR imaging alone. Due to the MR imaging findings, therapy was changed correctly in 66 patients (14.3%); unnecessary open biopsy was performed in 16 patients (3.5%).

Conclusion: Contrast-enhanced MR imaging of the breast is highly sensitive for invasive breast cancer. MR imaging may reveal unsuspected multifocal, multicentric, or contralateral breast carcinoma and result in therapy changes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / surgery
  • Contrast Media
  • Female
  • Gadolinium DTPA
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Mammography
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Neoplasms, Multiple Primary / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms, Multiple Primary / pathology
  • Neoplasms, Multiple Primary / surgery
  • Prognosis
  • Ultrasonography, Mammary


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium DTPA