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Magnetic Resonance Imaging - Breast

What is Breast MRI?

A breast MRI is the diagnostic imaging of the breast by using magnetism and radio waves in combination with a dye-like, ferromagnetic contrast media to produce high resolutions, three-dimensional images of the breast tissue.

What are some common uses of the procedure?

A breast MRI is most commonly used for staging of benign or malignant disease, characterization of abnormalities with an implant, or for patients who have a ruptured implant or a family history of breast cancer.  A breast MRI is also sometimes performed when mammography is not an option.

How should I prepare for the MRI?

If you are of childbearing age, your breast MRI should be scheduled for 3-4 days after the onset of your menstrual cycle.  You should not be lactating at the time of your exam.  Previous mammograms should be available, if possible.  Please inform the technologist if you are on any form of hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

No other special preparation is necessary before your exam.  Food and fluid intake do not need to be restricted.

Please inform your physician or technologist if you are claustrophobic, or if you have a pacemaker, aneurysm clips or any metallic implants.  You should also inform your physician or technologist if there is any possibility that you may be pregnant.

What will I experience during the procedure?

Once you arrive in the MRI department, you will be asked to change into a gown and to remove any jewelry or metallic objects.  A technologist or nurse will start an IV, so that contrast may be administered during the scan.  You will be asked to lie on your stomach, which may become uncomfortable, on a sliding MRI table, which allows the technologist to move you into the MRI machine.  A female will help position your breasts correctly.  You will be asked to hold very still for the duration of the exam, which usually takes 45 minutes to 1 hour.  You may experience a cool sensation as the contrast is injected into your veins, and your body may feel an overall warmth as the scan is performed.  The MRI machine will make a series of loud, repetitive knocking sounds.  The technologist will offer you foam earplugs or a stereo headset to mask the noise.

Who interprets the results and how do I get them?

A radiologist will interpret the exam, and a signed report will be sent to your physician who will discuss the results with you.

CADstream software (computer aided detection) is used to aid the radiologist in reading the breast MRI.  It acts as a second set of eyes to mark suspicious regions of interest and help detect abnormalities within the breast tissue.