Incidental liver lesions on baseline breast MRI: Outcomes on subsequent abdominal imaging

Published:February 15, 2022DOI:


      • Incidental liver lesions are often encountered on baseline breast MRI.
      • Liver MRI is often used to characterize incidental lesions found on breast MRI.
      • Liver lesions are unlikely malignant in women without a known current cancer.
      • Liver lesions are more likely metastatic in higher stage breast cancer patients.



      To examine outcomes of incidental liver lesions on baseline breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that were further evaluated with dedicated abdominal imaging.


      Consecutive breast MRI reports from 2011 to 2016 were retrospectively reviewed to identify incidental liver lesions. Only patients without prior breast MRI, without prior abdominal imaging, and with subsequent abdominal imaging were included. Patient demographics, breast MRI indication, and final liver lesion diagnosis were recorded.


      Of 131 women (mean age 53.8 years), 94/131 (71.8%) underwent breast MRI for extent of disease evaluation, 25/131 (19.1%) for high-risk screening, 11/131 (8.4%) for implant evaluation, and 1/131 (0.8%) for problem-solving. Of 131 liver lesions (6–80 mm), 117/131 (89.3%) were deemed benign on subsequent abdominal imaging; 10/131 (7.6%) probably benign; and 4/131 lesions (3.1%) were confirmed breast cancer metastases. Metastatic liver lesions identified on breast MRI were more likely for women with a current diagnosis of breast cancer than for women without a current diagnosis of breast cancer: 4.3% vs 0%. Similarly, metastatic liver lesions identified on breast MRI were more likely for those with a higher prognostic stage (2 or 3) vs a lower prognostic stage (0 or 1) or no current breast cancer: 11.1% vs 0%.


      Baseline breast MRIs showing incidental liver lesions showed unsuspected liver metastases only in women with a current diagnosis of clinical stage 2 or 3 breast cancer. This suggests breast MRI indication and clinical staging of current breast cancer, if present, can help plan management and decisions to obtain follow-up of liver lesions.


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