What is Breast MRI?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive medical test that physicians use to diagnose and treat medical conditions. Images of the breast tissue are acquired using dedicated breast coils, various imaging techniques and in most cases a gadolinium injection is also administered.

MRI of the breast offers valuable information about many breast conditions that cannot be obtained by other imaging modalities, such as mammography or ultrasound.


Uses of breast imaging

  • To screen women at high risk for breast cancer
  • To evaluate breast implants
  • Following chemotherapy treatment in patients getting Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy
  • To further evaluate hard-to-assess abnormalities seen on mammograms
  • To evaluate lumpectomy sites in the years following breast cancer treatment
  • To determine the extent of cancer after a new diagnosis of breast cancer


Patient preparation

  • On completion of the registration process, you will be escorted to a changing room
  • You will be required to remove your outer garments and brassiere and put on a gown for the procedure
  • All jewelry and other accessories must be removed
  • You are NOT required to starve for this procedure or withhold medications
  • A gadolinium contrast injection may be required.  An intravenous line will be situated in preparation for procedure
  • Patients 50 years old or older must present recent blood results showing the BUN and Creatinine values, before contrast can be given
  • Should contrast injection be required for your examination, a consent form must be signed in advance
  • If you are claustrophobic or think you may be, you should speak to your doctor regarding a mild sedative to keep you calm.
  • Inform the technologist if you have any form of implants or implanted devices. These may be a contraindication to doing an MRI scan.


How is the procedure done?

  • You are asked to lie face down on fixed examination table
  • You will be exposed from the waist up to allow access to the breasts
  • Your breasts will be positioned into two openings in the breast coil
  • No compression of the breasts is required
  • You will enter the machine feet first
  • If we are evaluating for cancer, an intravenous line will be put in your hand
  • The technologist will use a computer to control the machine and acquire the images
  • The contrast and normal saline injection are administered during image acquisition.


What to expect

  • Mild discomfort due to position
  • Position must be maintained throughout procedure
  • Breasts may feel slightly warmer than normal during procedure
  • Machine makes a lot of thumping, tapping and knocking noises when scanning
  • You will feel a coolness moving up the arm when contrast is injected
  • Normal activities can be carried out immediately following the procedure, provided no sedation was administered.



  • Procedure is noninvasive and does not require use of ionizing radiation
  • Successfully images dense breasts in younger women
  • Successfully images breast implants
  • Provides guidance for biopsy
  • Valuable in detection and staging of breast cancer
  • When used alongside mammography, is quite useful in evaluating women with high risk for breast cancer



  • Patients are required to lie very still during the acquisition of the images and follow breath-holding instructions
  • Procedure may last from 30 minutes to an hour
  • The machine is unable to accommodate very large patients
  • Procedures are costly in comparison to other imaging modalities
  • Not advised for pregnant women
  • May not always distinguish between cancer tissue and fluid
  • Implants can cause imaging artifacts, reducing clarity
  • Should not be used independent of a mammogram or breast ultrasound.



How to make an appointment

You may call, email or visit us to set up your appointment for a Breast MRI.



The official report will be prepared and made available the next working day.

Reports may be received by:

  • Email
  • Fax
  • Personal pickup



Information Accessed  on October 17, 2016 from http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=breastmr#how-it-works