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  • Open Access

PB.5. Accuracy of axillary nodal staging on MRI of the breasts: correlation with ultrasound of the axilla and histopathology findings

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Breast Cancer Research201416 (Suppl 1) :P48

  • Published:


  • Breast Cancer
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Breast Carcinoma
  • Cortical Thickness
  • Histopathology Finding


Ultrasound (US) is routinely used for preoperative staging of the axilla in women with breast cancer but this has limitations with variable sensitivities published in the literature. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the breasts is frequently performed for preoperative staging of the breasts, and the axilla can be visualised on these scans. The aim of this study is to assess the accuracy of axillary nodal staging on MRI of the breasts.


A 4-year retrospective study was performed that included 205 women with breast carcinoma who underwent preoperative staging MRI of the breasts. Two consultant radiologists reviewed the MRI. The nodes were assessed for loss of fatty hilum, eccentric cortical thickness and maximal short axis diameter >10 mm. The findings were recorded on a proforma and subsequently correlated with the US findings and surgical histology results.


For the 205 cases, the sensitivity (95% CI) was 55% (48 to 62%) for MRI and 49% (42 to 56%) for US. The specificity was 88% (84 to 92%) for MRI and 98% (96 to 100%) for US. The combination of MRI and US resulted in an increase in sensitivity to 79% (73 to 85%) with a specificity of 84% (79 to 89%).


There was no statistically significant difference in the sensitivity and specificity of preoperative axillary nodal staging between MRI and US. The combination of MRI and US has been shown to have significantly higher sensitivity. Careful evaluation of the axilla on MRI to identify the cases for second-look US may increase the accuracy of preoperative staging of the axilla.

Authors’ Affiliations

The Nightingale Centre and Genesis Prevention Centre, University Hospital of South Manchester, Manchester, UK
Centre for Imaging Sciences, University of Manchester, UK
University of Manchester Medical School, Manchester, UK


© Wilson et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.