, Volume 107, Issue 1, pp 1-14,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 15 Feb 2007

MRI compared to conventional diagnostic work-up in the detection and evaluation of invasive lobular carcinoma of the breast: a review of existing literature



The clinical diagnosis and management of invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) of the breast presents difficulties. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been proposed as the imaging modality of choice for the evaluation of ILC. Small studies addressing different aspects of MRI in ILC have been presented but no large series to date. To address the usefulness of MRI in the work-up of ILC, we performed a review of the currently published literature.

Materials and methods

We performed a literature search using the query “lobular AND (MRI OR MR OR MRT OR magnetic)” in the Cochrane library, PubMed and scholar.google.com, to retrieve all articles that dealt with the use of MRI in patients with ILC. We addressed sensitivity, morphologic appearance, correlation with pathology, detection of additional lesions, and impact of MRI on surgery as different endpoints. Whenever possible we performed meta-analysis of the pooled data.


Sensitivity is 93.3% and equal to overall sensitivity of MRI for malignancy in the breast. Morphologic appearance is highly heterogeneous and probably heavily influenced by interreader variability. Correlation with pathology ranges from 0.81 to 0.97; overestimation of lesion size occurs but is rare. In 32% of patients, additional ipsilateral lesions are detected and in 7% contralateral lesions are only detected by MRI. Consequently, MRI induces change in surgical management in 28.3% of cases.


This analysis indicates MRI to be valuable in the work-up of ILC. It provides additional knowledge that cannot be obtained by conventional imaging modalities which can be helpful in patient treatment.