What is a Breast MRI?
Breast MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is an important clinical tool that can revolutionize the way we diagnose, stage, and treat breast cancer.
MRI is a highly sensitive imaging modality that excels in detecting small breast cancers and provides additional information about a suspicious area detected on a physical exam, mammogram or ultrasound.
Radiofrequency waves capture a three dimensional image of the breast after a small injection of an intravenous contrast agent called gadolinium. The gadolinium resides more heavily in areas of the breast with increased blood flow. Malignant tumors exhibit an increased number of blood vessels, and therefore will be enhanced on an MRI. Any suspicious areas can be sampled using a minimally invasive needle biopsy technique performed under MRI guidance.
Why would I need an MRI?
Breast MRI excels in detecting small breast cancers in women with dense breasts, augmented breasts, and breasts that have undergone breast conservation with radiation therapy. MRI can make a difference in early diagnosis for women at increased risk. (Find out your risk - take the quiz!)
Breast MRI is used routinely for pre-operative staging in women with a known diagnosis of breast cancer who desire breast-conserving surgery and to evaluate for recurrence.
Will I still need a Mammogram?
Mammograms save lives and are typically performed before, and in addition to, an MRI. Although an MRI is a more sensitive test (it's more likely to detect cancer than a mammogram), it may still miss some cancers that a mammogram would detect.
However unlike mammography, MRI uses no radiation.
What can I expect at my MRI appointment?
Your appointment will usually take 30-40 minutes. There is no special preparation needed prior to MRI. You will be able to take your normal medications, except hormone replacement therapy.
You will enter the MRI machine feet first, face down. You are welcome to bring a friend or family member.
Please find the necessary MRI forms for your appointment here.