Both mammography and breast MRI have played an important role in the prevention and detection of breast cancer-related deaths over the last few decades. However, it is important to note that they are different in many ways, each having its own advantages and limitations.
Read on to get a basic idea of the key differences between a mammogram and a breast MRI.
A mammogram, short for mammography exam, uses a low-dose X-ray system to identify breast issue abnormalities indicative of breast cancer. A mammogram is the gold standard for breast cancer detection, with a reasonable sensitivity (up to 88 percent) and a good specificity (75 percent), effectively detecting calcifications and malignant lesions.
Your doctor may recommend a mammogram either for screening or for diagnostic purposes. Screening mammograms are routinely done to detect breast cancer in women who are not experiencing any symptoms, while diagnostic mammograms are performed to assess and confirm the results of a screening mammogram or a clinical breast exam (CBE).
During a mammogram, you will stand in front of a special X-ray machine. A radiology technician will assist you in positioning your breast on the platform as well as your head and body at a certain angle that will yield an unobstructed view of your breast. Your breasts will be examined individually.
A breast MRI utilizes powerful magnets and radio waves to create accurate, cross-sectional images of the breast. Your doctor may order a breast MRI exam to further evaluate the abnormalities that were detected on your mammogram.
Before a breast MRI exam, you will be injected with a safe contrast dye (gadolinium). The dye helps produce clearer images, allowing the doctor to easily detect abnormalities. You will then be moved through a tube-shaped machine for the procedure.
Studies have demonstrated the efficiency of breast MRIs in detecting small breast lesions sometimes not identified using mammography. Breast MRI also shows superior breast cancer detection rates in women with dense breast tissue and those who have breast implants. Moreover, breast MRI does not use radiation, and thus, physicians can increase the number of screenings per year for women who have a high risk for breast cancer.
Despite its distinct advantages, breast MRI also has significant downsides, among which are its relatively limited specificity (cannot detect calcifications or differences between a benign and a malignant lesion, leading to false-positive results and unnecessary anxiety); and costs (can be expensive for routine screening).
3D Digital Mammogram in Sarasota and Bradenton, FL
We, at Intercoastal Medical Group, offer 3D digital mammography, as part of our commitment to ensuring and advancing the health of the women in Sarasota, Bradenton, and their surrounding communities. Our imaging department is fully accredited by the American College of Radiology, and our board-certified professionals are dedicated to delivering high-quality results and the best patient experience.
Call us today for an appointment at our office near you, or use our convenient online request form to schedule your visit. Our digital mammography services are available at these locations: Cattleridge Imaging, and Lakewood Ranch I Imaging.