Ann Arbor, Mich. — Researchers say they’ve found flaws in evidence supporting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stance that women with silicone breast implants should get regular follow-up magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, Medical News Today reports.
A new study suggests that the available data may be overestimating the ability of MRI screening to detect ruptured implants — particularly when scans are performed in symptom-free women. The research team, led by Jae W. Song, M.D., of the University of Michigan, reviewed 21 studies evaluating MRI and/or ultrasound — which many physicians prefer — to detect rupture.
The combined data suggest that while MRI is fairly accurate in detecting implant-related problems, it is 14 times more likely to detect them in women with implant-related symptoms than in women without symptoms. Even in a mixed screening sample of women with and without symptoms, the detection rate was twice as high in symptomatic women.
Investigators concluded that because most women in the studies had symptoms, the true accuracy of MRI for detecting implant-related problems in asymptomatic women is probably much lower. Reported accuracy rates varied widely for ultrasound screenings.
Researchers noted that in reported cases of implant rupture, the average age of the implants is more than 10 years. Dr. Song and colleagues wrote, “The benefits of screening within the first 10 years are unclear, and the effectiveness of such a screening program warrants further investigation.”
The authors called for further studies to evaluate the long-term health effects of ruptured silicone implants, the effectiveness of MRI or other screening tests, and the costs of and patient preferences for screening.
The study appears in the March issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.