Molecular Breast Imaging

  • What is MBI?

    Molecular Breast Imaging, or MBI, is an imaging modality like mammography and ultrasounds that takes a picture of the tissue within the breast. MBI, however, allows physicians to see the metabolic activity of the tissue, and see if the tissue “acts” suspicious, which can help differentiate benign from malignant tissue since they often look alike on mammograms and ultrasounds.

    The Mayo Clinic conducted a study in 2015 on the dual head camera technology and concluded that MBI, as an adjunct to screening mammography, increased the detection of invasive cancers by 400%. They further proved MBI to reduce unnecessary breast biopsies by 50%.

    Sentara RMH Medical Center is the first hospital on the east coast to have the GE Discovery NM750B MBI system with biopsy. This means a biopsy can be performed on a lesion with the same machine.

  • Who needs to have an MBI?

    Some mammograms are difficult to “read” or interpret, due to dense breast tissue, scarring from previous surgeries, scattered calcifications, or implants. If you have a mammogram that needs further evaluation, you may be referred for an MBI test. MBI is used for screening in high risk patients regardless of breast density, after a diagnostic mammogram for problem solving, and for operative planning and staging in a patient with a known diagnosis of breast cancer.

  • What can an MBI tell my doctor?

    MBI tells your doctor if a specific area of your breast is demonstrating increased metabolic activity. While this can have several different causes, both benign and malignant, this increased activity can alert your doctor that there may be an area that needs further attention with MRI or ultrasound, biopsy or close follow up.

  • Should I have an MBI test every year?

    This depends on the patient’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer and should be discussed with the doctor.

  • Is the MBI procedure comfortable?

    Only moderate pressure is required for an MBI, making it much more comfortable than a mammogram.

  • How long does it take for the tracing agent to work?

    After the patient is intravenously injected with a small dose of Sestamibi, imaging can begin immediately. The tracing agent has been used safely for more than 20 years in cardiac stress tests. It leaves your body within hours and is completely eliminated within 30 hours.

  • How much radiation is involved in MBI?

    MBI involves the injection of a dose to the patient that is comparable with or lower than that of other diagnostic imaging procedures.

  • How long does the MBI procedure take?

    In general, four images are taken – two for each breast. Each view takes about 5-10 minutes to image. The procedure lasts 45 minutes to one hour for all of the images to be completed.

  • How do I prepare for an MBI procedure?

    Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant. MBI isn’t recommended for women who are pregnant.

    Tell your doctor if you’re nursing. Your doctor may recommend that you stop nursing for several hours after your test.

    Schedule your test for the beginning of your menstrual cycle. It is preferable to schedule your exam around 7-14 days after the first day of your period.

    Don’t eat anything for 3-4 hours before the test. It is ok to drink liquids, including water, diet soft drinks, coffee or tea without milk and sugar.

    Check with your insurance company to see if the procedure will be covered. Some insurance companies may cover the MBI test for breast cancer diagnosis, but not for breast cancer screening.

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