Position a woman is placed during pre-surgical breast MRI influences scan’s accuracy rate

Position a woman is placed during pre-surgical breast MRI influences scan’s accuracy rate

A position in which woman is placed during her pre-surgical breast MRI could affect the scan’s accuracy rate. A small-scale study from radiologists at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston has unveiled that MRI images taken before the surgery could result into incorrect data if the patient has been placed face-down during the scan.

In addition, if MRI before surgery is taken in face up position then it would result into more detailed information to surgeon. As per the researchers, a breast MRI is commonly carried out before breast cancer patients undergo breast-conserving lumpectomy. The MRI helps doctor to see details, including the size, shape and location of the tumor.

Dr. Kristin Byrne, a radiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said that if MRI is carried out in breast cancer patient is a better preoperative planning. It helps doctor decided if there is any additional cancer in the same breast or in the other before the surgery is carried out.


Results can be different when MRIs are performed when the patient is face-down. The researchers said that there is a reason for that as “When the patient is on her back, the breasts often droop to the sides at different angles and it can look different each time they are imaged, leading to misinterpretation”.

In the study, the researchers have looked at 12 breast cancer patients undergoing lumpectomy. Out of them, six underwent MRI scans both, before and after their surgeries. Overall, the face-down position during MRI resulted into not accurate scans of both- the breast and the tumor’s position within the breast.

The research paper published in the journal Radiology has found that prone position led to change in size and shape owing to displacement and deformation of the tumor in the imaging in the prone position and operative supine position.

Therefore, the study researchers have suggested that MRI in the face-up and face-down positions may lead to the detection of a remnant tumor and lessen the chances of re-operation. As per the researchers, women undergoing breast-conserving surgery, 15 to 40% require a second operation to remove the remnant tumor.

There are very few hospitals in the US that currently offer MRI to help women and their doctors plan their surgeries. The technology has its drawbacks as the additional time for the procedure puts the patients at increased risk for infection and anesthesia-associated risks.

The researchers do agree that the findings need to be validated in the future large studies. Pre-operative supine MRI could expect to help the surgeon to accurately plan the removal of the tumor and reducing the need for re-operation.


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