J Korean Soc Radiol.  2022 May;83(3):620-631. 10.3348/jksr.2021.0097.

MRI Findings Suggestive of Metastatic Axillary Lymph Nodes in Patients with Invasive Breast Cancer

  • 1Department of Radiology and Center for Imaging Science, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Department of Radiology, Soonchunhyang University Cheonan Hospital, Soonchunhyang University College of Medicine, Cheonan, Korea.


This study aimed to investigate the diagnostic performance of features suggestive of nodal metastasis on preoperative MRI in patients with invasive breast cancer.
Materials and Methods
We retrospectively reviewed the preoperative breast MRI of 192 consecutive patients with surgically proven invasive breast cancer. We analyzed MRI findings of axillary lymph nodes with regard to the size, long/short ratio, cortical thickness, shape and margin of the cortex, loss of hilum, asymmetry, signal intensity (SI) on T2-weighted images (T2WI), degree of enhancement in the early phase, and enhancement kinetics. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis, chi-square test, t test, and McNemar’s test were used for statistical analysis.
Increased shorter diameter, uneven cortical shape, increased cortical thickness, loss of hilum, asymmetry, irregular cortical margin, and low SI on T2WI were significantly suggestive of metastasis. ROC analysis revealed the cutoff value for the shorter diameter and cortical thickness as 8.05 mm and 2.75 mm, respectively. Increased cortical thickness (> 2.75 mm) and uneven cortical shape showed significantly higher sensitivity than other findings in McNemar’s test. Irregular cortical margins showed the highest specificity (100%).
Cortical thickness > 2.75 mm and uneven cortical shape are more sensitive parameters than other findings, and an irregular cortical margin is the most specific parameter for predicting axillary metastasis in patients with invasive breast cancer.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Breast Neoplasms; Lymph Nodes
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