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MRI technology can be applied to generate extremely detailed images of breast tissues. An MRI breast exam can be used as an extremely accurate method of disease detection throughout the breast and surrounding anatomy. It is also used to determine the extent of the disease bilaterally and to reveal lymph node involvement. MRI breast imaging is not used in place of, but as a complement to, mammography and ultrasound.
The decision to have a MRI breast exam is made case by case by a team of breast care specialists. The decision may be based on the following criteria:
MRI breast exams are routine procedures that involve several simple steps. To begin with, you will be asked to remove all clothing from the waist up. You will be provided with an open-front gown, and a technologist will insert an IV into your arm for administering contrast agents.
A special “breast coil” will be attached to the table, and the technologist will assist you in lying face down, and will assist in properly positioning your breasts into the breast coil. IV contrast is needed, and will be administered during your exam.
You should expect to be in the exam room about 45 minutes, after which you will be able to return to your normal activities. Generally speaking, the procedure is completely painless.
There are no special preparations necessary prior to your MRI breast exam. You should continue any medications prescribed by your doctor, unless you have been informed otherwise. It is recommended that you wear loose, comfortable clothing, but remember that you will be asked to remove upper body clothing and put on an examination gown.
If you are still menstruating, this test must be performed between days 7-14 of the menstrual cycle.
Any metal objects such as earrings, eyeglasses, or hairpins must be removed prior to the exam. Be sure to inform the technologist if there is any possibility of pregnancy. You may also want to avoid drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages prior to scanning so you will be able to lie quietly for several minutes at a time.
It is extremely important that you notify your doctor or the technologist if any of the following conditions apply to you:
You will receive a contrast injection. MRI contrast is an organically bound gadolinium material that is used to make some abnormalities easier to see. Gadolinium in the medical setting is extremely safe and typically has no side effects. However, there is always the potential for allergic reaction. Be sure to tell your technologist if you’ve had a reaction to MRI contrast or if you are particularly sensitive to medications.
After your study is over, the images will be evaluated by one of our board-certified radiologists, with expertise in MRI breast imaging. A final report will be sent to your doctor who can then discuss the results with you in detail. Once a targeted area has been defined on the MRI images, your physician may discuss with you a follow up ultrasound exam in order to further characterize and localize the area of concern.