Breast MRI

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) provides in-depth breast images and is usually done when a physician needs additional information about a breast abnormality. Breast MRIs are not used in place of screening mammography, breast ultrasound, or a clinical breast exam. MRI is not recommended for pregnant women. Only a physician can order a breast MRI. Learn more about uses of breast MRIs, preparing for a breast MRI, and what to expect during your MRI.

Uses of Breast MRIs

  • Diagnose breast conditions or stage breast cancer
  • Review multiple tumor locations prior to breast surgery
  • Identify possible breast abnormalities in women with dense breast tissue

Preparing for your breast MRI
Before you have your MRI, tell your doctor if you have:

  • Allergies: MRIs sometimes use injected dye to help with the images
  • Kidney problems: a common dye used in the procedure can cause complications in patients with existing kidney conditions
  • Claustrophobia: your doctor may prescribe a mild sedative.
  • Implanted medical devices or metal in your body: pacemakers, artificial joints, defibrillators, implanted drug ports, artificial heart valves, implanted nerve stimulators, metal pins (or screws, staples, stents, plates), cochlear implants, clips used for brain aneurysm

Day of MRI

  • Remove all jewelry and metallic objects (hairpins, watches, necklaces, body piercings)
  • Take out hearing aids and removable dental work

What to expect during a breast MRI

  • You will lie on the table with your breasts in a hollow depression in the table. The table slides slowly into the center of the MRI machine.
  • You will be alone in the MRI room, but your technologist will see you through the glass and is in constant communication with you throughout the procedure.
  • It is important to remain as still as possible.
  • You will hear tapping or thumping sounds from the machine during the test. You may be given earplugs for this.
  • MRIs are done in sequences that may last several minutes each. The total session usually lasts from 30 minutes to one hour.
  • A radiologist reviews the images and the hospital sends the radiology report to your referring physician.

Learn about other diagnostic tests: Breast Ultrasound, Stereotactic Breast Biopsy.