MRI is an imaging technique that uses magnetic fields instead of radiation to look inside the body. During your breast MRI you will be asked to lie face down with your breasts placed in openings in the table. A contrast material is injected through a vein. The exam generally lasts between 30 minutes and one hour and both breasts are examined simultaneously. It is very important to stay still during the MRI for an accurate reading. If you are claustrophobic, you can ask your referring physician about a mild sedative that may help make the procedure more comfortable.
There is only a small amount of breast compression applied to the breast to prevent motion during an MRI procedure. The amount of breast compression is significantly less than mammography and most patients are comfortable throughout the procedure.
The indications for breast MRI are constantly changing as more data becomes available. In addition to being used as a better tool for breast cancer detection in patients with high risk for breast cancer, this new technique can be used to help identify questionable findings arising from a complex mammogram or physical exam. Young women who have certain genetic mutations may have improved detection of early cancers with breast MRI rather than mammography. Breast MRI is useful for deciding treatment in women who have already been diagnosed with cancer, patients with very dense breast tissue and those with a strong family history of breast cancer.
If the breast radiologist recommends that you have a breast MRI, your referring physician will send orders to the Breast Center. Once these orders are received, a nurse will contact you to schedule your breast MRI.