Breast MRI

What is Breast MRI?

Breast MRI uses Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to produce clear, detailed images of the inside of the breast. Each exam produces hundreds of cross-sectional images of the breast that are then read by a radiologist. Breast MRI is used as a complement to mammography, not as a replacement.

When is Breast MRI indicated?

Established indications in Breast MRI include:

  • Inconclusive mammogram and/or Ultrasound results
  • Evaluating for multifocal or multicentric cancers
  • Close/positive surgical margins
  • Post-operative scar vs. tumor recurrence
  • Monitoring neo-adjuvant chemotherapy or brachytherapy
  • Determining implant integrity
  • High risk screening (American Cancer Society guidelines, 2007)
What can I expect during the exam?

During a MRI of the breast, the patient lies on her stomach on a scanning table. The breasts are suspended in a padded holder in the scanning table, which contains coils that detect the magnetic signal. The scanning table is moved into the bore of the MRI. After an initial series of images have been taken, the patient may be given a contrast agent intraveneously. The contrast agent is sometimes used to improve the visibility of the tumor. Additional images are acquired. The exam takes approximately 30 minutes to an hour.

How do I prepare for the exam?

You cannot be examined by MRI if you have any of the following:

  • Pacemaker
  • Aneurysm clips in the brain
  • Inner ear implants
  • Metal fragments in an eye
  • Implanted spinal cord stimulator

A paramagnetic contrast agent (a special “dye” that enhances the image) may be used.
This is given intravenously before the exam to highlight certain body parts. If contrast is required for your exam, please tell your physician:

  • If you are pregnant or think you might be
  • If you are breastfeeding
  • If you have anemia or any diseases that affect red blood cells
  • If you have asthma or other allergic respiratory disorders

Prior to your MRI examination, you may eat and take your medications as you normally would.

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