Circumscribed Masses on Breast MRI: Can MRI Features Guide Management?

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Objective: Management of circumscribed breast masses seen on MRI is largely extrapolated from mammography and US data with limited MRI-specific data available. This study aimed to assess clinical and MRI imaging features of malignant circumscribed breast masses. Methods: In this IRB-approved retrospective study, breast MRIs performed between April 1, 2008, and August 30, 2020, containing circumscribed masses, excluding multiple bilateral circumscribed masses, were reviewed. Clinical and imaging features of all eligible masses were recorded, and associations with malignant outcomes were assessed using Fisher's exact test and Wilcoxon rank sum test, with P < 0.05 considered significant. Results: For the 165 masses that met study criteria in 158 women, the mean age was 48 years (SD 12.0 years). Nine of 165 masses were malignant (5.5%). Round masses were significantly more likely to be malignant (7/37, 18.9%) compared to oval masses (2/128, 1.7%) (P < 0.001). Among masses with available dynamic contrast kinetics data, the malignancy rate was 0/84 (0%) for persistent kinetics, 2/23 (8.7%) for plateau kinetics, and 4/24 (16.7%) for washout kinetics (P = 0.002). The malignancy rate for oval masses without washout kinetics was 0% (0/92). T2 hyperintense masses had a malignancy rate of 7/104 (6.7%), and homogeneously enhancing masses had a malignancy rate of 5/91 (5.5%). Conclusion: These data support the use of mass shape and dynamic contrast enhancement kinetics to guide management of circumscribed breast masses seen by MRI, with oval masses without washout kinetics and any circumscribed mass with persistent kinetics showing no malignancies in this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-314
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Breast Imaging
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2023


  • breast MRI
  • circumscribed masses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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