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Software Improvements in Breast MRI Scans

According to a new study,using commercially available software to enhance breast scans done by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reduces the number of false positive identifications of malignant tumors and the subsequent need for biopsies.

Teresa Williams, M.D., and colleagues at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and the University of Washington Medical Center did a retrospective examination of 154 breast lesions deemed suspicious by radiologists that were only visible on MRI and that had been biopsied under MRI guidance.

They compared the findings and recommendations made by radiologists at the time to new findings using computer-aided enhancement (CAE) software to enhance and evaluate the visible response to contrast agents absorbed by breast tissue.

False positives were reduced by 23 percent when CAE was set to its highest enhancement level, according to the study, which is published in the July edition of the journal Radiology. Williams was a medical resident in radiology at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) when the research was done. She is now a fellow in pediatric radiology at Childrens Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle.

In summary, our findings suggest that CAE has the potential to improve the discrimination of benign and malignant breast MRI lesions, the authors wrote. We believe that CAE is useful as a tool to supplement the radiologists subjective interpretation, but should not be relied upon exclusively to guide management.

There are challenges associated with breast MRI and one is the time it takes to process and evaluate the many images acquired, said Constance Lehman, M.D., corresponding author and director of radiology at the SCCA.

Computer software programs such as the one evaluated in our study can assist us in interpreting breast MRI scans more easily. Our study suggests that the information provided may improve our ability to distinguish between benign
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