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.

What are additional useful tests?
  • Mammogram and Breast Ultrasound: Breast ultrasound often accompanies mammogram to increase the accuracy (without more radiation) in women under age 50 who might have more dense breast tissue.
  • BRCA1 and BRCA2: a blood test which detects genetic mutation related to increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer in someone with a family history of the disease.
  • Breast MRI: a breast scan used to screen women at a high risk for breast cancer
  • PET/CT Scan: a breast scan used to help in diagnosis of abnormalities of the breast
  • Breast biopsy: a tiny needle is inserted in a suspicious area of the breast to gather cells that are analyzed in the laboratory to make sure they are not cancerous. This is usually booked directly with the test center.
  • Breast MRI

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    When to test

    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.

    How should I prepare for a Breast MRI?

    IMPORTANT: Please let the scheduler know if you have breast implants, pacemaker, aneurysm clips, heart defibrillator and if you are claustrophobic (fear in tight spaces) so they can book you in an OPEN MRI or a STAND UP MRI. Please DO NOT EAT or DRINK 4 hours prior to your appointment. Sip of water is fine.

    How long does a Breast MRI take?

    An MRI of the Breast is usually completed between 30 to 60 minutes.

    Is radiation involved in a Breast MRI?

    No. An MRI is a painless imaging test that does not 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.

    I am pregnant. Is this safe for me and my baby?

    If you are in your 1st trimester, MRI will not be performed and must need to wait until 14 weeks. Usually, test centers will ask to sign a consent before the exam is done.


    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. This procedure should be scheduled 7-14 days after the onset of your menstrual cycle.

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    * This is for educational purposes only. LabFinder does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All users should consult with a medical provider in person for any health concerns.