A small study conducted by radiologists in Boston, concluded that breast MRI precision depends on the position of the patient inside the machine. This information might be crucial to planning a lumpectomy surgery, as it reveals the location, shape and size of the tumor more clearly. Apparently, patients facing upwards have a better chance at a full recovery.
This small study by radiologists from a Boston-based woman’s hospital concluded that MRI imagery before performing breast cancer surgery may alter the information if the patient is oriented face-down during the procedure.
On the other hand, if the scan is done face-up, surgeons may gain valuable information, such as a better image of the tumor, leading to increased efficacy in removing cancer.
An MRI scan of the breast is used before surgery, to detect whether any cancerous cells remain in the breast. However, still many MRIs are performed with patients facing down.
Although the surgery always takes place with patients oriented upwards, doctors sometimes choose to do the MRI scan the other way around, since breasts often drop to different angles, making the images harder to interpret.
The study looked at 12 patients who underwent lumpectomy. It found that patients oriented face-down received inaccurate MRIs resulting in significantly altered images.
Another conclusion was that both positions need to be considered before doing the surgery. This could lead to better detection and clearer margins.
Nearly 40 percent of women with breast cancer need a second operation to remove remaining cancer cells. The study still needs validation from other, bigger studies.
Not all doctors feel the same about these findings. Some believe that they are irrelevant because of the small number of patients which were involved.
Some hospitals in the US offer these types of MRI, while others don’t offer these services. This technology is risky, especially because it makes patients wait longer for the operation to take place and increases the risk of the cancer spreading.
Breast cancer outlooks for women in America are improving, with technology and early detection playing a large role. Almost 1 in 8 women will develop this type of cancer at some point in her life, with African-American women being at a higher risk than other population groups, such as Hispanics or Native American women.