Date: 4/28/2008

Breast MRI biopsy now available at Community Hospital Women’s Diagnostic Center

MUNSTER — The most precise technology available for identifying breast cancer, with the potential for same-day results, is now offered at the Community Hospital Women’s Diagnostic Center.

The center has begun offering breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) biopsy for detecting breast cancer in high-risk patients. The breast MRI biopsy complements the breast MRI procedure that has been available at the Women’s Diagnostic Center since 2004.

Under the care of Mary Nicholson, M.D., breast radiologist and medical director of breast imaging services for Community Healthcare System, patients now will be afforded the most up-to-date breast-cancer-detection services technology can offer. Dr. Nicholson is the only fellowship-trained, dedicated breast radiologist in Northwest Indiana.

“The great thing about this is there is no need for a patient to go to Chicago for a breast problem,” said Suzanne Ruiz, nurse practitioner at the Women’s Diagnostic Center. “Breast care here now is equivalent to and often better than in Chicago.”

The wait time patients may have previously experienced between an initial breast MRI exam and a resulting breast MRI biopsy has been dramatically reduced with the new technology.

Ruiz said in the past, patients who underwent a breast MRI at the center might have had to wait more than a month before traveling to a hospital in Chicago to undergo the breast MRI biopsy. And then there’s the wait time between undergoing the biopsy and receiving the results.

That, Ruiz said, is unnerving. Because even though the majority of masses found through breast MRI are benign, it still weighs heavily on patients’ minds.

“If you’re wondering or not sure, your mind always focuses on the bad, not the good,” Ruiz said.

The longest a patient now will have to wait to undergo a breast MRI biopsy is about two weeks. The results of the biopsy often are available later that day or the next morning.

“Regardless of how we do a biopsy at the Women’s Diagnostic Center, we have the potential to get the results the same day,” said Nicholson, who performs breast MRI, ultrasound, and stereotactic core biopsies at the Community Hospital Women’s Diagnostic Center. “Nobody else can do that.”

The breast MRI is a test recommended for high-risk patients and used in conjunction with mammography. Every woman who undergoes a mammogram is given a lifetime risk assessment. If her risk is elevated, she might benefit from a breast MRI. Breast MRI offers valuable information about many breast conditions that cannot be obtained by other imaging tests.

The breast MRI biopsy is minimally invasive. It’s done under local anesthetic. Only about a quarter-inch incision is made on the skin, and it requires no stitches.

“You just show up like you do for your mammogram, and we’ll do your biopsy,” Nicholson said. “It’s all designed to decrease waiting and decrease anxiety.”

The Women’s Diagnostic Center is located just south of Community Hospital on Calumet Avenue in Munster.