A New MRI Enhances Care at the Breast Center at Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center

“Breast MRI is a wonderful tool, ” says radiologist Linda Sanders, MD, Medical Director of the Breast Center at the Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center. “It has been accepted widely as the most sensitive tool to detect breast cancer and is also excellent for ruling it out.”

An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan captures multiple views of the breast, which are combined using a computer to create detailed images. The test might be indicated if a patient has an abnormal mammogram or ultrasound, Dr. Sanders says. A screening MRI is especially useful for women with dense breasts because fatty tissue can obscure a radiologist’s ability to see a lesion.

“If a breast lesion lights up on the MRI, that indicates increased blood flow,” Dr. Sanders explains. “That doesn’t always mean it’s cancer, but the contrapositive is true: If nothing lights up, that’s a reliable sign that there’s no breast cancer, and there’s no need to stick a needle in the breast to take a biopsy.”

Renderings for the newly renovated Breast Center.

An On-Site MRI

The Breast Center recently acquired its own MRI to use on its premises. “We do 10 to 13 breast MRIs every day,” says Dr. Sanders. “Now our patients don’t need to leave the Breast Center and go downstairs to our MRI department, which is also handling ortho, spinal and brain MRIs, as well as urgent cases. Our MRI is seamlessly integrated into patient care and we can control the scheduling so patients don’t have to wait.”

The new breast MRI is a Siemens Aera 1.5 Tesla machine. “The images it provides are detailed with high resolution,” says Dr. Sanders. It’s fast—the scan times are half of what the industry standard is—and includes noise reduction and special lighting to reduce patient anxiety.

The arrival of the new MRI coincides with a renovation of the Breast Center designed to make it more efficient, comfortable and patient-centered. The registration area is growing

Linda Sanders, MD
Linda Sanders, MD
from six to 10 bays, and the clinical space is now directly adjacent to reception. A spa-like area where gowned patients can wait for results has been added, with chairs positioned for privacy and amenities including coffee, tea and light snacks.

“I’ve lived through amazing changes in this field,” says Dr. Sanders. “We went through an evolution from film screening mammography to digital mammography in 2005, plus tomosynthesis more recently, which is a component of all our mammograms. We began using screening ultrasound more rigorously after the NJ Breast Density law was passed. We added breast MRI to our tool kit in 2000, and we continue to use the latest technology.

“We’re doing top-notch care at the Breast Center, and we have excellent surgeons and pathologists. You couldn’t be in a better place for breast care.”

To schedule a screening at the Breast Center at Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center, call 973.322.7888.