Ask Dr. Ulissey | November Q/A

  • Wednesday, November 15, 2017 2:39pm
  • Life

Q. I recently saw a celebrity news story indicating a breast MRI is not safe. Can you tell me these details?

A. I believe the article to which you are referring is where a celebrity is suing a medical device manufacturer because he claims that the contrast agent in a breast MRI somehow left his wife weak, tired and with various intermittent bouts of discomfort.

In my opinion, a breast MRI is safe. It is also an invaluable tool that greatly benefits women when it’s used properly.

The contrast agent in question is called gadolinium. Literally hundreds of millions of women have undergone a breast MRI over the last several decades, and if there was something significantly harmful, we would have known by now. The FDA has reviewed data on gadolinium, and so have multiple European drug agencies, and all have found it to be generally safe (barring, of course, known medical problems you may have, such as kidney failure).

Having written the above, I will add that no drug is perfect, and most have some kind of side effect. What’s more, in another 20 years we may learn more about longer term effects, so to that end, various offshoots of gadolinium have been developed to limit these possible outcomes. One agent that is popular in Europe because it seems to have fewer side effects is gadoterate meglumine, and it is also becoming more used in the United States.

Many researchers also think that doing a breast MRI every other year on some high-risk women might be just as effective as yearly, and that would reduce the lifetime-accumulated dose by half. There is no medical evidence yet that indicates this has to happen, but my feeling has always been that it is best to administer the minimum amount of drug needed to gain the maximum information from the test (in this case, a breast MRI).

Reach Michael J. Ulissey, M.D., a partner at the Breast Diagnostic Centers of Auburn and Federal Way, at mike@breastdiagnostic.com.

More in Life

Courtesy photo
The ABBAgraphs coming to the Ave

Tribute band brings back the sounds of Swedish pop group

BowieVision lead singer Stefan Mitchell. COURTESY PHOTO
BowieVision performs at the Auburn Ave on Sept. 28.

BowieVision will bring an epic and intimate experience when the band performs… Continue reading

Bringing all types of art to life

Creative, versatile Brugger to teach Green River College’s first ever how-to animation class this fall

Hops & Crops Music and Beer Festival returning to Mary Olson Farm

Tickets on sale for Sept. 15 gathering at Auburn’s historic hamlet

Auburn-area community calendar | Sept. 12

Events Auburn Tourism: For special events or to add a special event,… Continue reading

Auburn library September listings | KCLS

Events for adults, families and children

The Washington State Fair in Puyallup continues through Sept. 23, with big fun, big food and big concerts. Guest can enjoy their favorite foods, rides, vendors and entertainment. COURTESY PHOTO
Auburn-area community calendar | Sept. 7

Key events, programs and other listings

Answers may be hard to come

You’re on the edge of your chair. Curiosity is almost killing you;… Continue reading

‘If You Love Me’ deserves a spot on your bookshelf

First tooth, first step. Every milestone your baby passed was reason for… Continue reading

Returning sounds

Northwest broadcaster and poet donates historic radio programming archive to museum

Auburn-area community calendar | Aug. 17

Event listings, including fundraisers and museum programming

Dive into the story of the average gig-employee

Your allowance was never enough, as a kid. Oh, sure, it bought… Continue reading