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.
Breast MRI can be used to:
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MRIs can be harmful if you have metal inside your body such as joint replacements or pacemaker. Make sure your doctor knows of any internal metal before the test. Some may also have an allergic reaction to the contrast dye. Talk to your doctor about any allergies you have or if you have liver or kidney problems. These may make it difficult for your body to get rid of the contrast.
If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, talk to your doctor before the MRI scan about whether an MRI scan is right for you.
Leading up to the test:
Once at the MRI center:
You may be:
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.
You will need to wait until the images are examined. In some cases, the technician may need to take more images.
About 1-½ hours
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
Camp HJ. Controversies in breast MRI. Radiologica. 2010; 52(suppl 1):26-29.
Heywang-Kobrunner SH, Viehweg P, et al. Contrast-enhanced MRI of the breast: accuracy, value, controversies, solutions. Eur J Radiol. 1997;24:94-108.
Klostergaard J, Parga K, et al. Current and future applications of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to breast and ovarian cancer management. Puerto Rico Health Sciences J. 2010 September;29(3): 223-231.
MR imaging (MRI)—breast. RadiologyInfo website. Available at: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=breastmr&bhcp=1. Accessed May 21, 2007.
Shinil K, Shah BS, et al. Current role of magnetic resonance imaging in breast imaging: a primer for the primary care physician. J Am Board Fam Med. 2005;18:478-490.
What is breast MRI? University of California at San Francisco website. Available at: http://www.radiology.ucsf.edu/patient-care/services/breast-mri. Accessed June 6, 2007.
9/10/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: US Food and Drug Administration. New warnings required on use of gadolinium-based contrast agents. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm225286.htm. Updated September 9, 2010. Accessed September 10, 2010.
5/17/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Patenaude Y, Pugash D, et al. The use of magnetic resonance imaging in the obstetric patient. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2014 Apr;36(4):349-355. Available at: http://sogc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/gui306PPG1404E.pdf.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
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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