If you are at risk for breast cancer, have had a biopsy that is positive for cancer or have had an imaging test that shows a breast abnormality, your physician may recommend breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to screen for or more fully understand the extent of the condition.
Baptist Health is nationally recognized for excellence in cancer care. We offer a comprehensive breast cancer screening and treatment program, including breast MRI. Best of all, you’ll appreciate convenient appointment times, locations near you and a personalized focus to meet your needs before, during and after your procedure.
What Is a Breast MRI?
An MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, bone and other structures inside the body. A breast MRI can provide additional information to what is already identified on mammography and ultrasound.
What Can a Breast MRI Accomplish?
A breast MRI can produce highly detailed images of breast abnormalities, including cancer. It is particularly useful to:
- Screen women who have a family history of breast cancer
- Determine the extent of cancer after a diagnosis
- Better evaluate hard-to-assess abnormalities that may be found on a mammogram
- Effectively evaluate lumpectomy sites after breast cancer treatment
- Monitor the effect of chemotherapy on some breast cancers
What Can I Expect During the Procedure?
When you arrive for your MRI appointment, you will be given a gown and a robe to wear and will be given instructions about removing clothing and jewelry. If you have trouble being in an enclosed space, you may ask your provider to provide a mild sedative to take before you arrive for your MRI appointment.
All breast MRI tests require that you receive an injection of dye (contrast agent) through an intravenous line to help make the images of your breast more detailed. Some patients experience a metallic taste in their mouth during contrast administration. You will lie face down on a table with your breasts positioned into a hollow depression that contains coils that detect magnetic signals from the MRI machine. The entire table then slides into the opening of the machine.
The MRI machine creates a magnetic field around you, and radio waves are directed at your body. You won’t feel the magnetic field or radio waves, but you will hear loud tapping and thumping sounds coming from inside the machine. Because of this, you will be given headphones to wear.
During the test, the technologist monitors you from another room. The technologist will be in constant contact with you throughout the entire exam. You’ll be instructed to breathe normally but to lie as still as possible. The test can take around 30 minutes.
MRI exams are painless. If you have been sedated by your referring provider, you will need a driver to take you to your next destination.
Breast MRI Possible Risks
Any test carries risks, but a breast MRI is a safe and effective imaging procedure. Certain risks can include:
- An MRI can cause implanted medical devices to malfunction
- The contrast dye may cause an allergic reaction. A Kidney Function Test on the day of the exam will be performed on patients over 50 years old and patients that are diabetic before any contrast dye can be administered.