Background: Whereas the impact of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the breast on the surgical management of breast cancer patients is well documented, less is known about its effect on health care costs. This study aimed to evaluate whether MRI use for women with invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) significantly changes the cost of care. Methods: Patients with ILC were recruited to a prospective registry study of breast MRI. Women who met the same inclusion criteria but had not undergone breast MRI were retrospectively identified for comparison. A micro-costing analysis using institutional billing records was conducted. Nonparametric bootstrapping was used to compare the unadjusted cost differences between the patients receiving MRI and those receiving no MRI. Results: Of the patients in this study, 51 had preoperative MRI, and 60 did not. Method of diagnostic biopsy, disease stage, oncologic procedure, and rates of contralateral prophylactic mastectomy were similar between the two groups. The patients in the MRI group were younger (median age 55 vs. 64 years; p = 0.01) and more likely to undergo reconstruction (45.1 vs. 25 %; p = 0.03). The median costs of care were significantly higher in the MRI group ($24,781 vs. $18,921; p < 0.01). After adjustment for clinical factors, MRI remained significantly associated with increased cost (p = 0.03). Other factors associated with increased cost included type of oncologic procedure (mastectomy vs. lumpectomy; p < 0.01), number of operations required to achieve negative margins (1 vs. >1; p < 0.01), and use of reconstruction (p < 0.01). Conclusion: Preoperative breast MRI increases the median total cost of care per patient. However, the contribution to the overall cost of care is modest compared with the cost of other interventions.
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