Breast MRI ordering practices in a large health care network

Breast J. 2019 Mar;25(2):262-268. doi: 10.1111/tbj.13198. Epub 2019 Feb 12.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate providers' ordering practices and perceptions of breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in an academic network in order to better understand and educate a referral base. An online survey was distributed to primary care providers (PCPs) and specialists in our hospital and community practices. Questions included provider demographics, current ordering practices, challenges to ordering, and perceptions about breast MRI. Of 525 ordering providers, 134 responded (26% response rate). Of 134 providers, 57 (42%) order breast MRI in practice. Of those who do not, the most consistent reason was a lack of familiarity with the use of breast MRI (32/77 [42%] of cases). Of 57 cases, 45 (79%) order less than 10 exams annually. The most frequent indication is for high-risk screening (40/47 [84%]). PCPs order fewer breast MRI compared with specialists (P = 0.01). Both PCPs and specialists have mixed perceptions of the clinical utility of breast MRI. However, 30% of all providers are ordering more breast MRI since the enactment of breast density legislation in Massachusetts. Furthermore, 29% report they would order breast MRI more often to screen women with dense breasts if there was a low cost option. Referring provider surveys are useful tools for assessing a radiology practice. Our study suggests a growing clinical interest in breast MRI for screening; however, there is a need for provider education on the clinical utility of breast MRI. Increasing the radiologist's role in targeted educational interventions may help improve awareness and lead to more appropriate utilization of resources.

Keywords: MRI; breast; ordering; perceptions; surveys.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Density
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / statistics & numerical data*
  • Massachusetts
  • Physicians, Primary Care
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*