Use of Ultrasound Instead of MRI For Breast Implant Check?

Published on June 8, 2012 by Brian Joseph

You know how I’m always telling you that you should get MRI screening for your breast implants every two years?

Well, you still should—but according to a new study in the February issue of theAesthetic Surgery Journal, there may be a different technology taking the MRI’s place within the next few years: the ultrasound.

It’s not necessarily that the ultrasound does a better job than MRIs in detecting implant failures; in fact, what the study, “Surgeon-Performed High-Resolution Ultrasound in the Detection of Silicone Gel Breast Implant Shell Failure: Background, In Vitro Studies, and Early Clinical Results,” found is that portable, high-resolution ultrasounds appear to detect implant leaks and ruptures just as well as MRIs when operated by surgeons.

The reason this news is important is that ultrasound results have until now been considered as less conclusive than MRI results, which is why I’ve always recommended MRIs in the past for implant screens. If it turns out after further testing that ultrasounds truly are just as reliable as MRIs, it will be great news for patients everywhere: ultrasounds are less expensive, more convenient and accessible, and the images they produce are real-time and dynamic. Breast implants aren’t the only area where the technology could prove useful, either—it could be applied to other procedures as well, including vein surgery and ablation, general breast monitoring, and visualization before rotating shaped implants.

The findings in this study are only preliminary; it will take a little more time and work before surgeons start getting behind the idea of replacing MRI scans with ultrasounds. It’s exciting to think, though, that sometime in the near future we may be able to offer patients a more available and affordable option for making sure their implants are in tip-top shape.

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