MRI for Breast Cancer Diagnosis

MRI is an additional tool for the diagnosis of breast cancer. It does not replace routine mammography.

What to Expect

After checking into the imaging center an experienced technologist will assist the patient to complete the exam. The technologist will have the patient change into a gown. They will then go over your pertinent medical history and start an IV which is used for the contrast injection which is administered part way through the exam. The technologist will also screen the patient for any contraindications for the MRI such as implants in the body and also any history of kidney disease, diabetes or other medical conditions which may prohibit the use of IV contrast.

The patient is then positioned on the MRI exam table lying prone (face down) and slid into the into the MRI scanner feet first.  Patients who suffer from claustrophobia may find this unpleasant. The exam usually takes about 45 minutes. During the exam, it is important that the patient position does not change and that the patient lies as still as possible. Motion can greatly affect the quality of the images causing repeat exams.  The exam is completed with a series of sequences done before the contrast injection and then several after the contrast is injected. Each of these sequences will take several minutes to complete. While the MRI scanner is running, patients can expect a great amount of noise. Because of this, all patients are required to wear hearing protection or headphones with music. The technologist will communicate through an intercom system keeping the patient informed about the length of each sequence. The patient is also given a call button in case of an emergency.

After the exam, it is important to stay well hydrated as this helps to eliminate the contrast from the body.  The exam will be reviewed by the Breast Radiologists and results sent to the referring physician. Results can take up to 48 hours.

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