Additional Diagnostic Tools


Breast MRI

Breast MRI is an evolving technology that uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look specifically at the breast. Breast MRI is a non-invasive procedure that does not involve radiation, nor does it require the flattening of the breast tissue as does a mammogram. MRI has a much greater sensitivity to different densities in the breast than either X-ray or CT, so the ability to identify a mass in the breast using MRI is greatly increased. Being a new procedure, breast MRIs should not replace the traditional screening and diagnostic procedures, such as self and clinical examinations, mammograms, and fine needle aspirations or biopsies. However, breast MRI is a valuable tool to use in addition to the standard practices.

Breast MRI requires an injection of contrast agent to help brighten any breast abnormalities. A patient must lie still on their stomach for several scans. The total examination time is usually around 40 to 60 minutes.

If you are scheduled for a breast MRI at Sentara Albemarle Medical Center, please contact us at (252) 384-4700 with any questions or concerns.


Breast Specific Gamma Imaging (BSGI) Service

Breast Specific Gamma Imaging (BSGI) is one of the latest technologies physicians use in their fight against breast cancer, and Sentara Albemarle Medical Center is one of the only hospitals in northeast North Carolina offering this state-of-the-art imaging tool. BSGI is typically used as an additional breast imaging resource to aid in the detection of early stage breast cancers following a mammography, breast ultrasound or, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). BSGI is particularly effective in women with dense breast tissue and those who have had breast augmentation or implants.

Before the scan, the patient is injected with a small amount of harmless radioactive tracer, which is absorbed by all the body’s cells. Because cancerous cells have a higher rate of metabolic activity than normal cells, they absorb a greater amount of the tracer and appear as “dark spots” or “hot spots” on the resulting image. The test usually lasts approximately 45 minutes, and patients can even sit upright and watch television throughout the procedure.

Clinical studies have shown BSGI to increase the chance of finding and defining the smallest cancers — as tiny as one millimeter. It reduces false positive results, greatly differentiates between benign and malignant cells, and gives physicians a higher clinical confidence in treatment options. In addition to its clinical advantages, BSGI is relatively inexpensive and is covered by most health insurance plans.