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FDA UpdateThe U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has updated its MRI recommendations for silicone breast implants—and patients should be aware of additional costs involved.

The FDA recommends that patients who receive silicone implants during breast augmentation get periodic breast screening with MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). MRI screening is advised for patients with silicone breast implants to examine the integrity of the implant shell to rule out rupture. Unlike saline breast implants, which will typically have an obvious change (decrease) in size, silicone breast implants may not change in size when the implant shell ruptures. For this reason, routine periodic MRI screening is recommended to check the implants in patients with silicone breast implants but is not recommended for patients with saline breast implants. (Of course, there are also other separate indications for MRI related to soft tissue screening (breast tissue) that might include patients with saline or silicone breast implants.)

The most accurate way to determine if a silicone breast implant is ruptured is with an MRI screening. Breast implant manufacturers recommend periodic MRI screening for all patients with silicone breast implants as long as the implants are present. The current recommendation for silicone breast implant screening is getting the first MRI screening five years after the initial procedure, and then an MRI screening every two to three years as long as the implants are present.

It is important for patients to understand the FDA and breast implant manufacturer MRI screening recommendations because of the extra expense incurred when choosing silicone breast implants—an added cost not incurred with saline breast implants. If a patient has silicone breast implants for 25 years, the recommended number of MRI screenings would be approximately eight. If the silicone breast implants are placed for cosmetic purposes, then insurance companies may not cover the cost of the MRI screenings. Patients choosing silicone breast implants should be aware of the extra costs involved when choosing silicone breast implants. The FDA document link with the new MRI screening recommendations is here.