How Accurate is an MRI Scan for Detecting Breast Implants Ruptures Behind the Muscle? (photo)

I had BA in July 2007 and in the last few months, my right armpit is very tender and the skin feels scalded. The breast has shrunk a bit, and i had a huge abscess drained surgically last week. I had an MRI a few weeks ago and they said no rupture, im not convinced....

Doctor Answers 4

MRI detecting rupture

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Although it is not a perfect test for detecting silicone implant rupture, MRI is currently the best test. You photo does not show the "linguini sign" that is typically characteristic of implant rupture.

Tucson Plastic Surgeon

MRI is not foolproof at detecting implant rupture.

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The FDA's own data report a 21% false positive rate (meaning the scan reported "rupture" when in fact at surgery the implant was found to be entirely intact). Another way of looking at this is that an asymptomatic patient with no complaint or concerns at all regarding her breasts received an MRI report of "rupture" and underwent unnecessary surgery 21% of the time (implants just fine without rupture).

Since your MRI reported no implant problems, that is actually believable, particularly in light of the abscess drainage that in many cases could be confusing an accurate MRI reading.

Any symptoms are much more likely to be related to the infection that was drained rather than a possibly ruptured implant. If what was drained was really a bacterial abscess, your implant would have been removed, since there is no way to "sterilize" an infected implant and pocket. More likely you had hematoma or seroma drained (both sterile fluid collections) and your implant is not only intact (not ruptured) but also not infected.

Talk to your doctor; there is much misinformation out there, leading to your own misconceptions and unwarranted worry! I hope your breast sensation returns to normal as quickly as possible. Best wishes!

An MRI is very good at detecting an implant rupture

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An MRI is the best test we have available to detect an implant rupture, accurate over 90% of the time. There is nothing else as sensitive. It would be unusual as well for you to experience a leak within five years of your surgery. The situation with the abscess possibly has thrown off the sensations you are having.

MRI and implant rupture

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MRI is very accurate in detecting a ruptured breast implant.  Most scientific studies demonstrate about 90% sensitivity in showing implant rupture.  In other words, 9 times out of 10 the MRI will be positive when an implant is ruptured.  This is much, much, much more accurate than either mammogram or ultrasound.  Also, it is very unusual for an implant to rupture as early as 4 1/2 years after augmentation.  So, I think the likelihood of your having a ruptured implant is low. 

The information you provided is limited, particularly regarding the abscess.  I am assuming this was separate from the implant, or your surgeon would have removed the implant at the same time the pus was drained.  Provided this is the case, your problems may all be related to the abscess itself.  This certainly could explain the tenderness and sensory changes.  I think this is more likely to be the cause of the symptoms you describe.  However, if you are still worried about the implant and want to be 100% sure it is not ruptured, a minor surgical procedure and direct examination of the implant will answer the question. 

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.