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Accuracy of breast MRIs affected by patient positioning

Oklahoma women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are sometimes given a breast MRI before surgery. Breast MRIs are used to help surgeons gain a more accurate understanding of the shape, size and location of the tumor that they are going to remove. These MRIs are sometimes performed before breast-conserving lumpectomy, a procedure that removes the cancerous tumor and some surrounding tissue.

Though breast MRIs are typically performed while the patient is laying face down, researchers believe that this position does not provide the most accurate results. A study that was conducted by radiologists from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston found evidence that more detailed and accurate information can be gained from a face up breast MRI.

The reason breast cancer patients usually receive MRI scans while they are face down is that medical personnel want the patient's breasts to stay at the same angle each time they are scanned. When patients are face up, breast images in an MRI can look different depending on how the breasts fall to the sides. However, researchers say that face up scans result in significant deformity of the position of the tumor and the shape of the breast. The researchers say pre-operative breast MRIs should be performed in the both the face up and face down positions.

If surgeons do not obtain an accurate breast MRI before surgery, there is a possibility that a remnant tumor could be left in the patient's breast. About 15 to 40 percent of women who undergo breast-conserving lumpectomy require a second surgery to remove a remnant tumor. They may want to meet with an attorney who has experience in hospital negligence litigation to see whether the failure to obtain an accurate reading constituted actionable medical malpractice.

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