Breast MRI is a procedure that uses Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), an imaging device that creates a combination of magnetic fields and radio waves (no radiation) to produce images of the human anatomy, specifically breast tissue. Each exam produces hundreds of images and 3-dimensional views of the breast. This information allows for improved surgical and treatment decision-making.
The radiologists at The Jim & Eleanor Randall Breast Center recognize that breast MRI is a powerful tool to screen high-risk women, but acknowledge that false positive results can cause unnecessary concerns. Therefore, we make use of computer-aided diagnosis and high-resolution ultrasound prior to breast MRI testing to avoid false alarms that an MRI might generate. MRI is not a substitute for a screening mammogram.
What circumstances call for Breast MRI?
In most circumstances, mammography, ultrasound, and physical examinations will be sufficient for a diagnostic assessment. Breast MRI is used in two special circumstances:
When a mammogram and ultrasound is inconclusive to the existence of breast cancer or how far the disease has spread. It is also used to detect silicone implant rupture in women with implants.
What are the benefits of having a Breast MRI?
Early detection improves survival and expands treatment options. MRI is more accurate in evaluating these features:
- Size of the tumor
- Lymph node involvement
- Response to treatment (chemo and radiation therapy)
These measurements impact the type of treatment you receive such as a lumpectomy or a mastectomy.
Who are prime candidates for Breast MRI?
- Women diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Women with any Lobular breast cancer (a special cancer tissue type).
- Women at high risk due to a strong family history.
- Women with dense breasts and tentative findings on a mammogram and breast ultrasound.
- Women with scar tissue from prior surgery.
- Women with breast implants.
How do I prepare for the breast MRI exam?
- No advance dietary or prescription restriction is required.
- Do not wear jewelry, including your watch, due to magnetic interference.
- If menstruating, you must schedule between 7-10 days after your first day of bleeding.
- If previous testing was not done at The Jim & Eleanor Randall Breast Center, you must bring a copy of your mammogram and ultrasound.
An IV will be inserted into your arm during the exam. This may cause slight discomfort.
If I am claustrophobic, what do I do?
The breast MRI machine is open and the part of your body being scanned is the only part under the machine. If you wish, you may take a mild sedative in advance of this procedure.
If I have implants, what is a Silicone Breast Implant Evaluation?
This breast MRI evaluation is only concerned about the rupture of a silicone implant and does not assess the surrounding tissue for the existence of breast cancer. There is no injection required. Implant rupture has no relationship to breast cancer. The exam takes about 45 minutes.
If I have implants, what is a Breast Tissue Evaluation?
This evaluation reviews the breast tissue rather than the implant. This exam requires a contrast injection to provide information. The breast MRIs are performed at the Jim & Eleanor Randall Breast Center’s sister facility, Huntington-Hill Imaging Center, Fair Oaks, located on the same campus. It takes about 45 minutes.