New York Methodist Debuts MRI for Breast Imaging

Aug 12, 2009

New York Methodist Hospital is now one of the few hospitals to offer state-of-the-art MRI for breast imaging. Breast MRI (short for magnetic resonance imaging) is a non-invasive procedure used to detect cancer and other abnormalities in the breast. This is a major development for women in our community, said Steven Garner, M.D., chair of radiology at New York Methodist Hospital. MRI, which does not use radiation, is an excellent tool for evaluation of the breast in selected patients.

Breast MRI is performed when physicians need more information than a mammogram, ultrasound or clinical breast exam can provide. In many cases, the exam is used to evaluate abnormalities detected by mammography or ultrasound, distinguish between scar tissue and recurrent tumors, determine whether cancer detected by mammography, ultrasound, or surgical biopsy has spread further in the breast or into the chest wall and to assess the effect of chemotherapy. In certain situations, such as when a woman has a very high risk of breast cancer, breast MRI may be used as a screening tool for detecting the disease.

Mammograms are still considered the best screening tool for most women. Despite a recent study suggesting that women should wait until the age of 50 to get mammograms, Dr. Garner recommends sticking with American Cancer Society guidelines which urge women to begin having the procedure done at age 40. Further, breast MRI is not a substitute for mammograms, said Dr. Garner. Breast MRI is most effective when used in addition to a mammogram or another breast-imaging test.

MRI may be used as a part of the routine screening process for patients with a very high risk of developing breast cancer, a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, a history of precancerous breast changes or other risk factors, breast. The test is also very useful for evaluating a suspected rupture or leak of a breast implant and for evaluating very the dense breast tissue often present in younger women.

The new MRI is part of the NYM Women's Diagnostic Center, headed by Charlynn Maniatis, M.D. In addition to breast MRI, the Center, which adjoins NYM's Advanced Women's Imaging Center, offers mammography, breast ultrasound, needle core breast biopsy and ultrasound aspiration. For more information, call 718 780-5799.