(Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Breast)En Español (Spanish Version)
MRI uses magnetic fields to make images of the inside of the body. A computer produces two- and three-dimensional pictures. MRI of the breast uses an MRI to evaluate breast tissue.
Reasons for Test
Breast MRI can be used to:
- Evaluate breast abnormalities seen on mammography
- Identify breast abnormalities in women (and in some cases, men) with dense breast tissue, implants, or scar tissue
- Examine breast implants
- Examine scar tissue
- Evaluate the progress of breast cancer treatment
- Identify cysts or enlarged breast ducts
- Examine lymph nodes near the breast
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What to Expect
Prior to test
Leading up to the test:
- Try to schedule the test between days 5 and 15 of your menstrual cycle. This is a time when the breast tissue is less dense.
If your doctor prescribes a sedative:
- Arrange for a ride home.
- Take the sedative 1-2 hours before the exam, or as directed.
Once at the MRI center:
You will be asked about the following:
- Medical and surgical history
- Other conditions that you may have—If your MRI involves contrast material, your doctor will ask about the health of your kidneys. There is a risk of complications in people who have kidney disease and receive contrast material.
You will be asked if you have something in your body that would interfere with or make it so you cannot have an MRI, such as:
- Pacemaker or implantable defibrillator
- Ear implant
- Metal fragments in your eyes or in any other part of your body (Tell your doctor if your work involves meta2l filings or particles.)
- Implanted port device
- Metal plate, pins, screws, or surgical staples
- Metal clips from aneurysm repair
- Retained bullets
- Any other large meta2l objects in your body (Tooth fillings and braces are usually fine.)
- You will remove any meta2l objects (eg, jewelry, hearing aids, glasses).
- An x-ray may be taken to see if there are any meta2l objects in your body.
You may be:
- Given ear plugs or headphones to wear (The MRI machine makes a loud banging noise.)
- Allowed to have a family member or friend with you during the test
Description of the Test
You will lie face down on your stomach on a moveable bed. The bed will slide into a large, cylindrical magnet. Your breasts will hang into cushioned openings. You may be hooked up to monitors. These monitors will track your pulse, heart rate, and breathing. The technician will be in another room and give you directions via an intercom. A magnetic field will be produced to generate three-dimensional images of your breast tissue. As this happens, you will hear loud banging noises.
The MRI may require contrast dye to make the pictures better. In this case, you will receive an IV in your hand or arm. Contrast material will be injected through the IV.
After the Test
You will need to wait until the images are examined. In some cases, the technician may need to take more images.
- If you took a sedative, do not drive, operate machinery, or make important decisions until the sedative wears off completely.
- If you are breastfeeding and receive a contrast dye, you and your doctor should discuss when you should start breastfeeding again. Information available has not found any ill effects to a baby if a mother has had contrast dye.
How Long Will It Take?
About 1-½ hours
Will It Hurt?
The MRI images will be sent to a radiologist. Your doctor will receive the report and talk to you about the results.
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
Canadian Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute of Canada
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Last reviewed December 2011 by Ganson Purcell Jr., MD, FACOG, FACPE
Last updated Updated: 12/30/2011
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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