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Positioning during breast MRI may misrepresent tumors

Breast cancer affects countless women in New York. Some surgeons recommend that their patients have a breast MRI prior to scheduling their lumpectomy. The MRI allows the surgeon to plan the procedure in advance and to determine whether there are any other tumors in either breast.

This knowledge can be invaluable. When a surgeon knows exactly where and what size all of the tumors are before surgery commences, the procedure tends to be less invasive. However, a study has revealed that the position a woman is in during her MRI can change the appearance of the tumor. Most of these MRIs are performed with the patient lying on her stomach because breasts fall at different angles when a woman is lying on her back. If women complete the MRIs on their stomach, then their breasts will remain in the same position, which should lead to consistency.

However, lumpectomies are performed with the woman lying on her back. This change in position can misrepresent the size and the location of the tumor, can cause surgeons to remove more of the breast tissue than is necessary or can prevent them from removing all of the tumor. The Boston researchers conducting the small study, the results of which were published in a peer-reviewed medical journal in June, say that more research needs to be done on the matter, and they recommend that MRIs be conducted in both positions.

A failure to diagnose breast cancer because of a misreading of an MRI can lead to serious consequences for the victim, including a worsened condition and the need for more expensive care and treatment. An attorney who has medical malpractice experience can review the patient's hospital charts and, with the assistance of medical experts, make a determination as to whether the woman has a viable claim against the negligent practitioner or facility.

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