Breast MRI Imaging Services

Breast MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a tool for evaluating breast issues. It can be used in addition to mammography in certain cases. Mammography uses low dose X-rays to look at the breasts. MRI creates three-dimensional pictures using a powerful magnet and radio waves.

Breast MRI is performed using a contrast material called gadolinium. It is injected through an IV partway through the exam. MRI can show breast abnormalities, difference between benign and malignant tissue, size and location of suspicious tissue and enlarged lymph nodes in the chest and underarm area.

MRI may be used to screen women who have:

  • A mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 breast cancer gene
  • A first degree relative (parent, sibling, child) with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation
  • An increased lifetime risk of developing breast cancer
  • Had radiation to the chest between age 10 and 30
  • Any rare genetic diseases that increase their risk for breast cancer

MRI may also be used to:

  • Look at abnormalities found during physical exam, mammography or ultrasound as recommended by the radiologist 
  • Look at breast implants and the tissue around them, if there is a medical concern
  • Look at the breasts of women who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer, before surgery
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of chemotherapy for some women being treated for breast cancer
  • See the difference between scar tissue and a recurrent tumor after breast cancer surgery

People who should NOT have an MRI include those who have a pacemaker, cochlear implant, neurostimulator or an aneurysm clip.

Planning Your MRI

Schedule your exam between days 7 to 14 from the first day of your menstrual cycle. If you have had a recent mammogram, ultrasound or MRI at another facility, please bring your films or CDs and reports to the exam. Please provide requested information about your medical history before you have your MRI.

What to Expect the Day of Your MRI

The day of your MRI:

  • You can eat, drink and take your medications as usual
  • You will be asked to change into a hospital gown
  • Remove jewelry, glasses, hearing aids, dentures or any other items that may contain metal
  • Before the MRI begins, you will talk to a technologist; please let them know if you have any questions or concerns
  • An IV will be inserted into your hand or arm — it is used to inject contrast material during the MRI

During your MRI:

You will be asked to kneel on the MRI table and lean on your stomach and chest on a smaller padded table during the exam. Tell the technologist if you have concerns about being in this position.

You will lie face down with your breasts placed into openings on an exam table. This is not like a mammogram — your breasts are not compressed during an MRI.

You will be asked to lie very still and breathe normally. The exam table will move into a round machine where the images will be taken.

This machine will make loud thumping and humming sounds as the pictures are being taken; hearing protection is provided to quiet the noise.

MRI machines are equipped with intercoms, which allow you to talk to the technologist before and during the exam.

What to Expect After Your MRI

You can do all of your normal activities right after the exam. The radiologist will read your MRI and will send a report to your health care provider. This procedure takes hundreds of pictures, so your report will not be available while you wait.

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