A study has determined that a simple blood test corresponding to the follicular phase (days 3-14) of a normal menstrual cycle could reduce repeated breast MRI scans in premenopausal women with irregular periods.
The test could aid in optimal scheduling of MRI scans in such women, which could possibly reduce the number of repeat scans and non-diagnostic tests patients experience and providing clearer images on which doctors make their recommendations, said the authors.
Research has shown that performing breast MRI scans during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle minimizes breast tissue enhancement.
"In practice, many clinicians scan premenopausal women who lack normal menstrual cycles without regard to the timing of their hormonal cycle. This can result in non-diagnostic exams and repeat scans," said Dr. Richard L. Ellis, lead author of the study.
Using what is already known about the menstrual cycle and its effects upon normal breast tissue, the researchers reasoned that a simple blood test could be used to optimize the timing of breast MRI exams.
Blood tests were used to time exams in 11 women with irregular cycles.
"None of the breast MRI scans performed in our small group of women resulted in high background enhancement of normal breast tissue requiring a repeat scan," said Ellis.
"Appropriate timing of a breast MRI examination for premenopausal women who do not have a normal menstrual cycle is a challenge. However, using existing science, we found that a simple blood test to determine a woman's serum progesterone concentration can aid in optimal timing of breast MRI. This is significant in an ever-increasing population of women requiring or eligible for breast MRI," he added.
The study has been published in the December issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.