Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is well suited to the investigation of breast cancer by virtue of its noninvasive nature and its multiplanar imaging abilities. MRI investigations showed high sensitivity but modest specificity for breast cancer detection and diagnosis. Most early studies tested the ability of MRI to evaluate and diagnose findings in the breast discovered by other imaging tests or by breast physical examination (1-4). When it was discovered that MRI identified small breast cancers undetected by mammography or breast ultrasound, MRI was used to estimate breast cancer extent in known cancer cases for surgical planning (5,6). These investigations led to the use of MRI in a multitude of breast imaging applications, raising further questions about the use of MRI in everyday practice: What are the indications for breast MRI in general practice? What is its role in light of other imaging tests? What are its benefits and limitations in each setting? How do I report these studies? The purpose of this article is to review the clinical background regarding indications for the use of MRI and relevant cases in which MRI can impact patient management in breast disease, and to describe new developments in reporting breast MRI studies. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2000;12:975-983.
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