Imaging findings in idiopathic granulomatous mastitis. A review with emphasis on magnetic resonance imaging

J Comput Assist Tomogr. Sep-Oct 2004;28(5):635-41. doi: 10.1097/01.rct.0000131927.82761.40.


Objective: To describe magnetic resonance (MR) imaging features of patients with a histologic diagnosis of idiopathic granulomatous mastitis (IGM).

Methods: Dynamic contrast-enhanced MR imaging was performed with a 1.5-T MR unit. Postprocessing of images included subtraction and calculation of time-intensity curves of the enhancing regions at several points in all patients.

Results: In addition to granulomatous inflammation, biopsy slides of 5 patients demonstrated abscess formation without a specific organism (aseptic abscess). One patient had a fibrotic tissue component. Magnetic resonance imaging findings were heterogeneously enhancing areas with (n = 5) and without (n = 1) multiple ring-like enhanced abscesses and a circumscribed lesion with heterogeneous contrast enhancement (n = 1). Time-intensity curves showed a benign pattern in all but 1 patient.

Conclusion: Idiopathic granulomatous mastitis has a number of appearances on MR imaging. Magnetic resonance imaging with measurement of time-signal intensity curves may support the findings of ultrasonography and mammography in distinguishing benign inflammatory breast disorders from malignant ones; however, biopsy still remains the only method of definite diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Female
  • Granuloma / blood
  • Granuloma / diagnosis*
  • Granuloma / diagnostic imaging
  • Granuloma / etiology*
  • Granuloma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Mastitis / blood
  • Mastitis / diagnosis*
  • Mastitis / diagnostic imaging
  • Mastitis / etiology*
  • Mastitis / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional
  • Women's Health


  • Biomarkers
  • C-Reactive Protein