The aim of this study was the evaluation of the diagnostic usefulness of ductal or segmental enhancement in dynamic breast MRI. Segmental and ductal enhancement have been established as the breast MRI hallmarks of intraductal breast cancer (DCIS); however, the positive predictive value of this imaging finding is still unknown. In our study, we analysed the overall prevalence of a segmental or a linear enhancement pattern on breast MRI for an unselected cohort of patients. The aim was to evaluate the diagnostic usefulness of segmental or linear enhancement. Second, we asked whether biopsy was necessary also in the absence of mammographic findings suggestive of DCIS. Prospective, consecutive evaluation of 1,003 patients under-going bilateral dynamic breast MRI. Studies were interpreted by two experienced breast radiologists. A diagnostic or screening two-view mammogram was available for all patients. Biopsy or short-term breast MRI follow-up was recommended for patients showing a segmental or a linear enhancement pattern on breast MRI. The patients' final diagnoses were established by imaging guided excisional or core biopsy or by clinical plus conventional imaging follow-up for a period of 2 years. The prevalence of segmental or linear enhancement was determined for patients with a final diagnosis of benign breast disease compared with those with a diagnosis of breast cancer. One hundred twenty patients had invasive breast cancer, 24 patients had DCIS and 859 patients had unsuspicious breast MRI or benign breast disease. A segmental or a linear enhancement pattern was found for 50/1,003 (5%) patients (17 DCIS, 33 benign breast diseases). Accordingly, the positive predictive value of segmental and linear enhancement is 34% (17/50); the specificity of this criterion is 96% (826/859). For 4/24 (17%) patients, DCIS was visible as segmental or linear enhancement on dynamic breast MRI, whereas no abnormalities were visible on the corresponding mammogram. The overall prevalence of a ductal or a segmental enhancement pattern on breast MRI is low. But this finding has a high specificity and a moderate positive predictive value for intraductal neoplastic changes. We conclude that if segmental or linear enhancement is identified on breast MRI further work-up is necessary. We recommend either direct MR-guided vacuum-assisted core biopsy or short-term follow-up breast MRI within 3 months. If ductal enhancement then persists, MR-guided biopsy should be recommended even in the absence of mammographically visible signs of DCIS.
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Published online: January 30, 2006
© 2006 Published by Elsevier Inc.