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Breast MRI

This page includes general information about what you can expect before, during and after your Breast MRI exam.

About Breast MRI

Breast MRI is a procedure using a magnetic field to further look at breast tissue. The American Cancer Society screening guidelines recommend breast MRI to be used in addition to mammography for women determined to be at high-risk for developing breast cancer. It’s also useful to get a better look after an inconclusive exam. There are two types of breast MRI exams: with contrast or without contrast.

  • Contrast (a special dye that helps highlight breast tissue) is used, together with an MRI, to evaluate for suspected or known breast cancer or for a screening exam in certain high-risk patients. Breast MRI does not replace mammography and ultrasound, but is rather a more detailed screening exam.

  • Non-contrast exams are used for evaluating breast implants to check for ruptures or leakage.

  • We will call you prior to your appointment to provide you with specific instructions and review health and insurance information.
  • Please bring previous images you have had to the appointment, including ultrasound, mammography and MRI exams or provide the name, address and contact information of the place where you had the exams done. The radiologist may need your previous films for comparison in order to make an accurate assessment.
  • Contrast Breast MRI exams are ideally performed the week following your period.
  • If sedation is requested, you should arrange for someone to drive you home.
  • Breast MRI exams usually take 60 to 90 minutes to perform.
  • If your exam requires contrast, you will be given an I.V. in your arm or hand prior to your scan.
  • Because of the magnetic field, you will be required to wear metal-free clothing, or to change into a gown. You also will be asked to remove any metallic objects, such as jewelry, watches and hair clips. At many of our centers we will ask you to change into a gown or scrubs. The technologist will talk through an MRI safety checklist with you that asks about prior surgeries or metal implants, such as pacemakers or aneurysm clips.
  • During the exam, you will lay on your stomach with both breasts naturally positioned in a cushioned recess containing the MRI scanner’s signal receiver (also known as a breast coil). Your head will be positioned on a headrest that is equipped with mirrors so you can see out of the scanner during the exam. Your arms will be positioned above your head.
  • The technologist will go out of the room to run the scanner from a computer located directly next to the scanner suite, which has a viewing window into the MRI room. At this time the MRI table you are on will move into the scanner and the technologist will take the images.
  • Next, contrast will be injected through the I.V. during the scan.
  • Additional images will be taken for comparison.

Ask a member of our staff for more specific information on when and how you will receive your results. However, in general you can expect:

  • Your images will be electronically sent to one of our radiologists who will review the information and write a report for your provider. This information is shared with your provider within 24 hours of your exam. The provider who referred you for the MRI will be the one to follow-up with you about your results and any next steps in your care.
  • The I.V. contrast will clear from the body by the kidneys after the exam. Breastfeeding women should discard milk for 48 hours after the exam.

For more specific information about your appointment and results, please contact the local center where your appointment is scheduled.