(Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Breast)
by Krisha McCoy, MS
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.
Reasons for Test
Breast MRI can be used to:
Possible Complications TOP
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.
What to Expect TOP
Prior to test
Leading up to the test:
Once at the MRI center:
You may be:
Description of the Test
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.
After the Test
You will need to wait until the images are examined. In some cases, the technician may need to take more images.
How Long Will It Take?
About 1-½ hours
Will It Hurt?
The MRI images will be sent to a radiologist. Your doctor will receive the report and talk to you about the results.
Call Your Doctor TOP
After the test, call your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
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.
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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 https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: 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.... Updated September 9, 2010. Accessed September 10, 2010.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
Last Updated: 5/11/2013