What is a Breast MRI?
A breast MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a painless radiology exam. This is performed to examine the breast and its surrounding areas in a non-invasive manner. In this scan, multiple images of the soft tissues of the breast are generated using radio waves and a strong magnetic field.
The breast MRI helps doctors in detecting cancer and other abnormalities in the breast. An MRI of the breast is not a replacement for a mammogram or a breast ultrasound tests. It is an additional test that provides more information and helps in evaluating women who are at a high risk for breast cancer.
The MRI of the Breast may be done with or without the use of a contrast material (dye) that is either taken by mouth (orally) or injected into the veins. When the contrast material is used, the organs are seen more clearly in the scanned images.
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Who Should Get a Breast MRI?
Your doctor may recommend a breast MRI to:
- Screen for breast cancer, especially if you have a family history of breast cancer (high-risk).
- Check and assess a small mass (tumor) in your breasts. It is usually found in women with very thick, non-fatty breast tissue.
- Find out more about the size of the tumor and extent of the spread, if you have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer. This is called staging the cancer.
- Learn more about the hard-to-assess abnormalities that are found by feeling the breast but are not seen in an ultrasound or a mammogram.
- Monitor how well the treatment for cancer (chemotherapy) is working.
- Check the area where the cancerous breast tissue was removed as a part of follow-up care.
- Learn if your breast implants have cracked or ruptured.
In case your doctor suspects you have breast cancer, then you may also be asked to take additional tests such as Cancer Blood Test: BRCA1 and BRCA2, Breast Ultrasound, and Mammogram (Breast Cancer Screen). Depending on the results, your doctor will confirm the diagnosis and plan your treatment.
How Is a Breast MRI Performed?
- Before starting the MRI of the breast, you will have to remove all the metal objects on your body, including eyeglasses, jewelry, hairpins, and dentures.
- A technologist will ask you to open your hospital gown in front to expose your breasts. If you feel uncomfortable doing so, inform the technologist.
- You will then have to lie face down on the MRI scanner table with your breasts positioned through cushioned openings in the table.
- The MRI table will then move slowly through a doughnut-shaped MRI machine.
- Once you are inside the MRI machine, multiple images of your breast will be taken that will be displayed on a monitor.
- During the scan, the technologist will ask you to hold your breath for 10 to 12 seconds at certain points. Make sure you don’t move during the scan as any movement can blur the images.
In case, your doctor has asked you to take a breast MRI with contrast, then a contrast dye will be injected into your vein shortly before the scan begins.
How Long Does a Breast MRI Take?
An MRI of the Breast is usually completed between 45 to 90 minutes.
Is Radiation Involved in a Breast MRI?
No. An MRI is a painless imaging test that doesn’t use radiation.
Are There Any Risks in Taking a Breast MRI?
- People who have implants such as cardiac pacemaker, coronary stent, orthopedic rods and plates, which contain metal, may face certain risks. The magnets used in an MRI can make implanted pins or screws move in the body or cause problems with pacemakers.
- Some people might also have an allergic reaction to the contrast dye used in an MRI.
When Will I Receive My Results?
Once the Breast MRI is completed, you will receive your results within 3-5 business days in your LabFinder portal.
How Should I Prepare for a Breast MRI?
Please refer to the simple preparation guidelines given below or consult with your doctor or radiology center where you are being treated. Do not forget to bring your LabFinder Order and Insurance Card to your appointment.