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What is Breast MRI?
MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses, and a computer to produce detailed pictures of the breasts and virtually all other internal body structures. The images can then be examined on a computer monitor. MRI does not use radiation. MRI of the breast offers valuable information about many breast conditions that cannot be obtained by other imaging modalities, such as mammography or ultrasound. Breast MRI should be used only for specific indications, as an adjunct to mammography and breast ultrasound, except in some situations where it can be used in screening.
Indications for the use of breast MRI:
- Evaluation of the extent of disease in patients newly diagnosed with breast cancer, including screening of contralateral breast.
- Evaluation of breast implant integrity
- Evaluation of patients with metastatic axillary adenopathy with no known primary cancer
- Patient with breast cancer who had surgery with close or positive surgical margins (MRI is done before repeat surgery).
- Evaluation of the response of breast cancer to chemotherapy
- Distinguishing post-operative scar from recurrent cancer.
- Problem-solving in certain cases (patients with difficult to interpret mammograms or breast ultrasounds to help clarify equivocal findings).
According to thhe American Cancer Society guidelines, these are the recommendations for screening breast MRI:
- Patient with BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
- Patient who is a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, child) with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, even if the patient has yet to be tested herself.
- Patient with a lifetime risk of breast cancer scored 20-25% or greater, based on one of the several accepted risk assessment tools that look at family history and other factors.
- Radiation to the chest between ages 10 and 30.
- Patient with Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome, or one of these syndromes based on a history in a first-degree relative.
How do I prepare for Breast MRI?
You may be asked to wear a gown during the exam, or you may be allowed to wear your own clothing if it is loose-fitting and has no metal fasteners.
To prepare for a breast MRI, your doctor may recommend that you:
- Let Mountainview know where you are in your menstrual cycle so that optimal timing for the breast MRI can be arranged (starting on day 7 of your period through day 14).
- Tell your doctor if you have a history of or current kidney problems.
- Tell your doctor if you have any of the following before your MRI:
- aneurysm or vascular clip
- intra-cranial (brain) by-pass clips or shunts
- cochlear implants
- neurostimulator (tens unit)
- Vena Cava filter (umbrella)
- shrapnel, metallic splinters, or other foreign bodies
- tattoos, permanent eyeliner, wig, hairpiece
- surgical prosthesis (joint replacement) or metal implants
- infusion pump
- have a history of gun shot wound
- penile prostheesis
- probe or capsule for heart burn or acid reflux
Metallic objects can be damaged and can be dangerous during an MRI. Because they can interfere with the magnetic field of the MRI unit, metal and electronic objects are not allowed in the exam room including but not limited to:
- credit cards
- cell phones
- hearing aids
- metal zippers
- removable dental work
- body piercings
Patients who might have metal objects in certain parts of their bodies may also require an x-ray prior to an MRI. You should notify the MRI Technologist of any shrapnel, bullets, or other pieces of metal which may be present in your body.
Please arrive about 15 minutes before your exam to fill out a brief questionnaire and history form, or you can pre-fill them out online Click Here
How is a Breast MRI Performed?
Once you are properly prepared for your MRI, your technologist will explain the procedure to you. You will lie face down on a cushioned moveable platform that is specially designed for the procedure. The platform has openings to accommodate your breasts allowing them to be imaged without compression. You will be moved into the open tunnel magnet of the MRI unit and images will be taken. It is important to remain very still throughout the exam. During the scans you will hear a series of banging and thumping noises. You will be offered earplugs or head phones to help block out the remaining sounds of the machine before your exam begins. Usually, you alone in the exam room during the MRI procedure. However, the technologist will be able to see, hear, and speak with you at all times using a two-way intercom. We allow a friend or parent to stay in the room as long as they have also screened for safety in the magnetic environment. If MRI of the breast is being performed for the purpose of determining a ruptured breast implant, you will not be given contrast material, a special dye that enhances areas on the image. If the exam is being performed for any other reason, you will need to have a contrast material injected intravenously (by IV) and be scanned twice with and without contrast. MRI of the breast without contrast material is inadequate for identifying breast cancers.
What Happens After My Exam?
No recovery period is necessary. You may resume your usual routine unless you were prescribed a sedative to take for the exam, in which case, you should arrange to have a ride drive you home after the exam. You should follow the recommendations of the doctor who prescribed the medication to you. Your breast MRI will be read and interpreted within 24 hours by one of our three onsite board certified radiologists, and your results will be sent to your referring physician, who will then get in touch with you with your results. We always welcome our patients to pick up their reports for their own personal records.