A breast MRI scan uses magnetic waves and computers to make pictures of the breast. It can make 2- and 3-dimensional pictures.
This test can be used to:
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Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as a reaction to the contrast material used to take clearer pictures. Kidney or liver problems may make it harder for the body to get rid of the material.
Pregnant women should talk to their doctors about the risks of having an MRI scan.
The staff may meet with you to talk about:
The doctor may give a sedative to certain people. They will feel relaxed.
The MRI machine makes a loud banging noise. You may be given ear plugs or headphones before the scan.
A contrast material may be injected into your hand or arm. You will lie face down on a sliding table. Your breasts will hang into cushioned openings. Monitors may be used to track your pulse, heart rate, and breathing. The table will slide into a narrow, enclosed tube.
The technician will leave the room. You will be given directions through an intercom. You can reply through the intercom. The pictures will be taken. You will exit the machine. Any IV needles used will be removed.
60 to 90 minutes
The exam is painless.
The images will be studied. A report will be sent to your doctor. Your doctor will talk to you about the results and any further tests or treatment.
Call the doctor if you have:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
Canadian Breast Cancer Network
Canadian Cancer Society
Breast cancer in women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/breast-cancer-in-women. Accessed October 16, 2020.
Breast MRI. University of California at San Francisco website. Available at: http://www.radiology.ucsf.edu/patient-care/services/breast-mri. Accessed October 16, 2020.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—breast. Radiological Society of North America Radiology Info website. Available at: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=breastmr. Accessed October 16, 2020.
Senkus E, Kyriakides S, et al. Primary breast cancer: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Ann Oncol. 2015 Sep;26 Suppl 5:v8-30.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Elliot M. Levine, MD, FACOG Last Updated: 4/27/2021