7-Tesla MRI shown to give more accurate diagnosis of breast cancer

Scientists at the MedUni Vienna have demonstrated for the first time that 7-Tesla ultra-high-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used for clinical applications in patients with breast tumors and may in the future facilitate even more accurate diagnosis of breast cancer. The work has just been published (Pinker et al. Clinical application of bilateral high temporal and spatial resolution dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging of the breast at 7 T. Eur Radiol. 2014;24: 913). In previous studies involving 7-Tesla MRI, the exploration of clinical application had previously been limited to just one breast due to the limited coil technology available. “The new generation of coils allows clinical application on both sides,” explains Katja Pinker from the University Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, Department of Molecular Imaging at the MedUni Vienna, who carried out the study in collaboration with the High Field MR Centre of Excellence and the Breast Health Centre at the MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital. Pinker says that the 7-Tesla MRI scanner permits a high diagnostic accuracy of 96.6 per cent. The higher signal available with 7T permits a higher resolution, allowing fine details to be visualized better and a more certain diagnosis to be made. Diagnosis at molecular and metabolic level is also possible with diffusion-weighted or sodium imaging and spectroscopy, so helping the characterization of tumors even more effectively.”

The general outcome of the study was that bilateral ultra-high-field MRI of the breast with 7-Tesla can be used clinically without problems, allowing more accurate diagnosis. “The future enhancement of ultra-high-field MRI of the breast with 7-Tesla using molecular and metabolic imaging could represent a further step towards personalized medicine, since not every type of breast cancer is the same” added Pinker.

By way of comparison, the current clinical standard MRI scans using a 3-Tesla device yield a diagnostic accuracy, with the very best equipment, of up to 93 per cent. The length of time of the investigation is also the same, whether it be a 3-Tesla or 7-Tesla scanner. The patient spends just over fifteen minutes in the tunnel. The clinical use of 7-Tesla in the examination of breast tumors is therefore possible immediately, however it also depends on the availability of suitable equipment: worldwide there are only eight university organizations that have a 7-Tesla device, including the one at the MedUni Vienna.