What is Breast MRI?

Breast MRI is a highly sensitive non-invasive procedure which examines the breast through hundreds of images. It is a non-invasive procedure that provides information that may not be available with traditional mammography. MRI does not use x-rays to make images; instead MRI creates images by detecting the response of magnetic fields to radio frequency signals.

MRI is not a replacement for mammography or ultrasound imaging but instead it is a supplement tool for detecting and staging breast cancer and other breast abnormalities. Traditional mammography remains the standard for breast cancer detection.

What are the difference between Breast MRI & Mammograms?

Mammograms use x-rays to generate images of a breast. MRI uses no x-rays and no compression of the breast. MRI has been shown to detect small breast lesions that are sometimes missed by mammography. MRI can image the dense breast common in younger women as well as breast implants.

Who should have a Breast MRI?

High Risk Patients – The American Cancer Society guidelines recommend an annual MRI, as well as a mammogram for women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer.

Diagnosed with Breast Cancer – Women who have had cancer diagnosed in one breast, should get a Breast MRI to further evaluate both breasts.

Newly Diagnosed with Breast Cancer – MRI can help determine the extent of breast cancer and assist in choosing the best treatment options.

Monitoring Therapy – It may also be useful to monitor patients for response to treatment and for evaluation of recurrent breast cancer.

Implant status – MRI is recommended for women with implants to evaluate both the implant and the breast.

What if I am claustrophobic?

If you have claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces), we can provide a mild sedative to take at the time of the exam. You will need someone to drive you home. Most patients do not require sedation.

What are the limitations and risks of Breast MRI?

MRI cannot always distinguish between cancer and benign breast disease such as fibro-adenomas, leading to false positive results. This is one of the reasons why mammograms remain very important for diagnosis and follow-up.

The MRI poses no risk to the average patient when appropriate screening safety guidelines are followed. The magnet does not affect dental fillings, surgical clips and staples.