Breast implants are frequently encountered on breast imaging studies, and it is essential for any radiologist interpreting these studies to be able to correctly assess implant integrity. Ruptures of silicone gel-filled implants often occur without becoming clinically obvious and are incidentally detected at imaging. Early diagnosis of implant rupture is important because surgical removal of extracapsular silicone in the breast parenchyma and lymphatics is difficult. Conversely, misdiagnosis of rupture may prompt a patient to undergo unnecessary additional surgery to remove the implant. Mammography is the most common breast imaging examination performed and can readily depict extracapsular free silicone, although it is insensitive for detection of intracapsular implant rupture. Ultrasonography (US) can be used to assess the internal structure of the implant and may provide an economical method for initial implant assessment. Common US signs of intracapsular rupture include the “keyhole” or “noose” sign, subcapsular line sign, and “stepladder” sign; extracapsular silicone has a distinctive “snowstorm” or echogenic noise appearance. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging is the most accurate and reliable means for assessment of implant rupture and is highly sensitive for detection of both intracapsular and extracapsular rupture. MR imaging findings of intracapsular rupture include the keyhole or noose sign, subcapsular line sign, and “linguine” sign, and silicone-selective MR imaging sequences are highly sensitive to small amounts of extracapsular silicone.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging