Optimized Protocols for Breast MRI – Increasing the total number of breast MRI screening exams in Canada

The Breast screening backlog in Canada is concerning, according to Dr. Seely, the Head of the Breast Imaging Section of The Ottawa Hospital (TOH)1. The pandemic has exacerbated the backlog in imaging and the longer patients wait to get screened, the more likely the cancer is going to be diagnosed at a later stage leading to the need for more aggressive treatment options1.

Breast MRI offers the highest sensitivity of all breast imaging modalities for the detection of breast cancer, especially for women with dense breasts. In the following video hosted by the Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN), Dr. Seely dives into the importance of Breast MRI for patients with dense breasts2.

The use of MRI for breast cancer screening is limited due to its cost and complexity. In June 2020, we surveyed radiology departments across Canada to better understand how MRI is being utilized for breast cancer screening. Wide ranges of booking and scan times for breast MRI were reported across the country - this data demonstrates an opportunity for standardization of protocols across the country to shorten breast MRI scan times, thereby reduce the strain on the current system3. The Ottawa Hospital ran a 10-month trial with optimized protocols for breast imaging that aimed to bring the average scan times from 30 minutes to 12 minutes4.


Key Takeaways From The Ottawa Hospital’s Experience4


The implications of reducing scan time may result in shorter booking times, therefore opening up the opportunity to scan additional patients in MRI per day. From a patient’s perspective, it means less time in an uncomfortable position.

Currently, we have facilitated implementation of these protocols in 3 sites where booking time has been reduced from 45 minutes to 20-30 minutes. Over 20 additional sites have shown interest in adopting these optimized protocols. A spokesperson from Hôpital Cité de la Santé in Laval stated “Our experience is super because it’s quicker and the patients appreciate it”.

If you are interested in learning more about the Breast Optimized Protocols and implementing them by getting experts to your site, please fill in this form. Our team will connect with you and provide support throughout the implementation.



1. Kupfer, M. (2021, March 2). Breast screening backlog concerning, head radiologist says. Retrieved from CBC News:

2. CBCN. (2022, February 22). Screening AFTER Breast Cancer. Retrieved from CBCN Webinars: https://cbcn.ca/en/webinar-screening-Seely

3. Canadian Association of Radiology & Bayer in Radiology Canada. (2020, October 29). Breast MRI Screening Practice in Canada. Retrieved from CAR News: https://car.ca/news/breast-mri-screening-practice-in-canada/

4. Lukaszewicz et al. RSNA 2019

The new Bayer Canada, Radiology Insider Podcast


We are excited to bring you the voices of Canadian Radiology in our new Podcast series, Radiology Insider Podcast. As we continue to navigate through the “new normal” it is critical that we, as a Radiology community, stay connected as well as share best practices and experiences from across the country. We hope that these podcasts will allow you to learn more about what is happening in Radiology as you drive your car, go for a walk or whenever you have time for a listen!


Our first few episodes feature interviews with Dr. Essig, Dr. Klass and Technologists Brad Barr and Cherie Boyle plus many more. New episodes drop every month so please click the green "follow" button on the podcast page to stay informed.


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