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MRI-guided Breast Biopsy

This page includes general information about what you can expect before, during and after your exam. For more specific information about your appointment and results, please contact the local center where your appointment is scheduled.

About MRI-guided Breast Biopsies

An MRI-guided biopsy may be necessary to further evaluate a lesion found during a breast MRI. It is not always possible to tell from imaging tests if an area of concern is benign or cancerous. During an MRI-guided breast biopsy, MRI imaging is used to help the radiologist guide the biopsy needle into the site of the abnormality. Tissue is removed for examination by a pathologist to diagnose the abnormality.

Learn more about your MRI Breast Biopsy Experience:

  • 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.
  • Please notify a member of our staff if you are nursing or if there is a chance you may be pregnant.
  • This exam usually takes 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 the MRI is a large magnet, please remember to remove metal prior to going into the scanner room. Notify us if you have any metal implants. At many of our centers we have you change into a gown or scrubs.
  • 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, visible through the viewing window. It’s at this time the MRI table you are on will move into the scanner and the technologist will take the images.
  • Using computer software, the radiologist measures the exact position of the lesion to ensure accurate needle placement.
  • The radiologist then inserts the needle, advances it to the location of the abnormality and MR imaging is performed to verify its position.
  • Several tissue samples may be taken and they are sent on to a pathologist.
  • A tiny tissue marker is placed in the breast to mark the biopsy area. You will not be able to feel the marker, but it will show up on future mammograms.
  • Once the biopsy is complete, the needle is removed, pressure will be applied, and the skin is covered with a dressing.

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:

  • You will be given follow-up instructions dependent upon where the biopsy was taken.
  • The biopsy may cause some bruising on the breast.
  • The staff will explain how and when you will receive your results.
  • Once the test results have been completed and confirmed, your doctor will inform you if any further breast care follow up is required.
  • The IV contrast is rapidly cleared from the body by the kidneys after the exam. However, breastfeeding women should discard milk for 48 hours after the exam.