MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is an advanced technology that is used to evaluate the breasts in certain special circumstances. These may include:
- More intensive screening of women who are at especially high risk for breast cancer (most often due to genetic factors and/or very strong family history)
- Further evaluation of newly diagnosed breast cancer
- Monitoring for recurrence after treatment
- Further evaluation of abnormal findings at mammography or ultrasound
- Evaluation of silicone breast implants for leakage
MRI is a technology that uses magnets and radio waves to produce detailed cross-sectional images of the breast. It does not involve any radiation exposure. Before the test, you may need to have a contrast dye inserted through an intravenous line in your forearm. Because the dye is eliminated from the body by the kidneys, your doctor may need to check your kidney function before giving you the contrast. If you have any implanted metallic devices in your body such as a pacemaker, you may not be able to undergo MRI. You will be asked to complete a detailed questionnaire prior to undergoing MRI.
During the exam you will lie on your stomach on a padded platform with openings for your breasts. Specialized coil elements surround each breast to generate detailed images. Unlike mammography, no breast compression is applied. Only your torso will enter the donut shaped MRI magnet. The test takes around 30 to 45 minutes. If you're claustrophobic, your doctor may recommend a mild sedative prior to MRI.
After the MRI exam, additional tests may be needed to determine whether or not suspicious areas represent cancer. A "second look" ultrasound is often performed to evaluate MRI findings. In some cases, you may need to return for a needle biopsy to be performed under MRI guidance.
At the Center for Breast Imaging and Diagnosis at St. Joseph Hospital, we are fully accredited in breast MRI by the American College of Radiology. Our team of dedicated breast imagers has extensive expertise in breast MRI interpretation and MRI guided biopsy procedures.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (714) 734-6280.