European Radiology

, Volume 18, Issue 11, pp 2370–2380 | Cite as

Magnetic resonance imaging of inflammatory breast carcinoma and acute mastitis. A comparative study

  • Diane M. Renz
  • Pascal A. T. Baltzer
  • Joachim Böttcher
  • Fady Thaher
  • Mieczyslaw Gajda
  • Oumar Camara
  • Ingo B. Runnebaum
  • Werner A. Kaiser


The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential of magnetic resonance mammography (MRM) to distinguish inflammatory breast carcinomas (IBC) from acute mastitis (AM). This study compared MRM examinations of two selected groups of patients: 48 subjects with IBC and 42 patients with AM. No statistical differences were revealed between the two groups for morphology of masses and of non-mass-like enhancement, breast enlargement, diffuse skin thickening, abnormal nipple configuration, prominent vessels, and also for cutaneous/subcutaneous, perimamillar and diffuse oedema. However, initial and postinitial dynamic characteristics significantly differed between the two groups (p < 0.001). In IBC, more masses with a greater average size were detected (p < 0.05). The following morphological criteria were also observed more often in IBC (p < 0.05): T2-hypointensity of masses (77.5%/18.2%), blooming sign (62.5%/31.8%), infiltration of pectoralis major muscle (interruption of fat plane: 54.2%/16.7%; pathological enhancement: 33.3%/7.1%), perifocal (66.7%/33.3%), prepectoral (72.9%/31.0%) and intramuscular pectoral oedema (41.7%/7.1%). The main localisation of AM was subareolar, of IBC central or dorsal (p < 0.001). The discrimination between AM and IBC remains a diagnostic challenge because of overlapping imaging features. However, the combination of multiple dynamic and morphological MRM criteria seems to have the potential for a differential diagnosis.


Inflammatory breast carcinoma Acute mastitis Breast infection MR mammography Morphology Dynamics 



inflammatory breast carcinomas


acute mastitis


magnetic resonance mammography


breast imaging reporting and data system


region of interest


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Copyright information

© European Society of Radiology 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diane M. Renz
    • 1
    • 4
  • Pascal A. T. Baltzer
    • 1
  • Joachim Böttcher
    • 1
  • Fady Thaher
    • 1
  • Mieczyslaw Gajda
    • 2
  • Oumar Camara
    • 3
  • Ingo B. Runnebaum
    • 3
  • Werner A. Kaiser
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional RadiologyFriedrich Schiller University JenaJenaGermany
  2. 2.Institute of PathologyFriedrich Schiller University JenaJenaGermany
  3. 3.Clinic of GynaecologyFriedrich Schiller University JenaJenaGermany
  4. 4.Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, Gynaecological RadiologyFriedrich Schiller University JenaJenaGermany

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