Breast MRI is a supplemental tool to mammography and ultrasound in identifying and staging breast cancer and other breast diseases. It is a valuable complementary screening tool in women at high risk for breast cancer. In women with a diagnosis of breast cancer, it is used to identify the extent of the cancer and, after surgery, to detect disease that is obscured by scarring. MRI aids in assessing the success of chemotherapy to help determine further treatment options.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take?
The average breast MRI exam takes about 30 to 45 minutes.
How should I prepare?
There is no pre-exam preparation—you may eat and drink as you normally would and take medications as you normally would.
What should I wear to my appointment?
Please dress comfortably— sweatpants and sneakers are perfect! It is important to not wear clothes with metal zippers, buttons or snaps; no metal is allowed in the MRI exam room. Safety pins, straight pins, metal hair pins, and all jewelry must be removed before entering the room. If you have a ring (such as a wedding band) or other jewelry that cannot be removed, we will test it for magnetic attraction before you may enter the room.
What can I expect during the exam?
Breast MRI is a relatively comfortable and easy exam. You will be asked to lie on your stomach on a cushioned bed. Your breasts will be positioned within a padded cutout on the bed. The bed will move into the magnet for the exam and you will hear a muffled humping sound that will last for several minutes. The most important thing you can do to make sure your exam is successful is to hold as still as you can throughout the procedure. Most breast MRI exams require an injection of a contrast agent called gadolinium. An intravenous catheter (I.V.) for this injection will be placed in your arm before you lie on the bed. Please tell us if you have ever had an allergic reaction to MRI contrast in the past.