Public Release: 

MRI-guided breast biopsy system is safe and efficient

American College of Radiology

It is now possible to safely and efficiently do a breast biopsy if a lesion is seen on MRI without sending the patient to surgery, a new study shows.

"In the past, if MRI detected a breast lesion, our only options would be to do a core biopsy or insert a wire in the area of the lesion; then the patient would have to go to surgery to have the lesion removed," said Constance Lehman, MD, PhD, associate professor of radiology and director of breast imaging at the University of Washington in Seattle. The vacuum assisted breast biopsy system, which has proven effective with mammography and ultrasound, can now quickly and accurately retrieve tissue under MRI-guidance, Dr. Lehman said.

Dr. Lehman reviewed 38 MRI-guided biopsies in 28 patients. "All of the biopsies were technically successful, and there were no complications associated with any of the procedures," Dr. Lehman said. The average time to perform the biopsies ranged from 38 minutes for single biopsies in a single breast to 64 minutes if performed on both breasts, she said. "The short time to do the biopsies is important both for patient comfort and so we can sample the tissue while the contrast-enhanced lesion is still visible," she said.

Most of the patients in the study had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer; MRI was being done on the breast that didn't have the cancer to determine the extent of cancer in the breast. They were women who were at high risk of breast cancer, or they had had a negative mammogram and/or a negative ultrasound examination, but their physician was still suspicious of the negative diagnosis, said Dr. Lehman.

"We are seeing an increase in the use of breast MRI, and we needed the means to accurately and successfully sample tissues seen only on MRI. This new method of vacuum-assisted breast biopsies is successfully providing that means," said Dr. Lehman.

Dr. Lehman will present her study on May 5 at the American Roentgen Ray Society Annual Meeting in Miami Beach, FL.


Keri J. Sperry 703-858-4306;703-919-8536
Jason Ocker 703-858-4304
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