Delineating Extramammary Findings at Breast MR Imaging

Radiographics. 2017 Jan-Feb;37(1):10-31. doi: 10.1148/rg.2017160051.


Breast magnetic resonance (MR) imaging is the only breast imaging modality that consistently encompasses extramammary structures in the thorax and upper abdomen. Incidental extramammary findings on breast MR images of patients with a history of breast cancer or other malignancies are significantly more likely to be malignant and may affect staging and treatment. An understanding of the frequency, distribution, and context of extramammary findings on breast MR images and a familiarity with common and uncommon sites of breast cancer metastasis inform the differential diagnosis and prompt the appropriate diagnostic next step, to differentiate benign from malignant findings. High-yield organ systems on breast MR images, as reflected by a high positive predictive value for malignancy, are correlated with known distant sites of breast cancer metastasis in the bone, lung, liver, and lymph nodes. Staging is considered when disease involves the skin and chest wall. Unusual sites of breast cancer metastasis from invasive lobular carcinoma are discussed, including the gastrointestinal tract, peritoneum, and adrenal glands. Nonmalignant clinically important findings involving the cardiovascular and gastrointestinal systems are reviewed, and potential pitfalls in diagnosis and interpretation are highlighted. A consistently systematic diagnostic approach is emphasized for identifying extramammary abnormalities on breast MR images. All things considered, the radiologist should be able to improve diagnostic sensitivity and specificity while interpreting extramammary findings on breast MR images. ©RSNA, 2017.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Breast Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Incidental Findings*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Skin Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Thoracic Diseases / diagnostic imaging*