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Blanchard Valley Health System Now Offers Abbreviated Breast MRI


Blanchard Valley Health System (BVHS) now offers an abbreviated breast magnetic resonance imaging test as an additional breast cancer screening tool.

Breast MRI is particularly useful for women with a higher risk of breast cancer, or who have dense breast tissue.

BVHS calculates the lifetime breast cancer risk for every woman who receives a mammogram. A computer model looks at a variety of factors, including family history, the age of a woman’s first menstrual period and menopause.

“A breast MRI is the most sensitive tool for detecting breast cancer, and may pick up cancer that wouldn’t show up in a mammogram,” said Aimee Hawley, MD, a radiologist at EasternWoods Outpatient Center. “But many insurance companies have limited the extent to which they will pay for a breast MRI. So, the abbreviated breast MRI gives this opportunity to women who might benefit, but whose insurance will not approve a full breast MRI.”

An abbreviated breast MRI is a shorter procedure, taking about 10 minutes, compared to 30 to 45 minutes for a full breast MRI. But it has been found to be just as sensitive at detecting breast cancers. At this time, an abbreviated breast MRI is a self-pay procedure, but at a significantly lower cost than a full breast MRI.

Qualifications for an abbreviated breast MRI include a screening mammogram within the last year; no previous history of breast cancer; insurance having denied a full breast MRI; and a less than 20% lifetime risk for breast cancer.

Hawley also emphasized the importance of breast cancer screening, in general. She said many women do not get routine mammograms.

“Regular screening makes it more likely we’ll detect cancer in its early stages,” she said. “We want to catch it when it’s smaller, and easier to treat. Waiting could mean that more intensive treatment or more complicated surgeries are required. This would mean more expense, as well as additional discomfort.”

A breast MRI does not take the place of a mammogram, but is used to supplement it. Women who have not been screened at all for breast cancer recently should start with a mammogram. BVHS offers 3D mammography at EasternWoods Outpatient Center in Findlay, and offers 2D digital mammography at Bluffton Hospital and the Ottawa Medical & Diagnostic Center. To schedule a mammogram, call 419.423.5323.

However, women who have received a mammogram but have been denied for a full breast MRI may benefit from asking their provider about ordering an abbreviated breast MRI.

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