Breast MRI

What is Breast MRI?
Breast MRI uses magnetic field and radio waves instead of x-rays to produce high resolution detailed images of the breast. This non-invasive procedure helps our board-certified mammography trained radiologists to detect any additional cancers not visible with both mammography and ultrasound. When used in conjunction with mammography, it provides value added information for both your surgeon or referring clinicians.

Please note possible limited sensitivity for detecting low-grade or early DCIS with MRI. MRI should not be used to replace screening mammography. In addition, suspicious findings on the mammogram or presence of a palpable abnormality despite a negative MR should or may still prompt a biopsy.

MRI also has a higher false positive rate (where the test finds things that turn out to not be cancer), which would result in unneeded biopsies and other tests if performed on a large portion of women.


Do I need a Breast MRI?

In March 2007, the American Cancer Society (ACS) revised the breast cancer early detection guidelines, recommending annual breast MRI screening for women in the following groups:

  • have a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
  • have a first-degree relative (mother, father, brother, sister, or child) with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, and have not had genetic testing themselves
  • have a lifetime risk of breast cancer of about 20% to 25% or greater, according to risk assessment tools that are based mainly on a family history that includes both her mother's and father's side
  • had radiation therapy to the chest when they were between the ages of 10 and 30 years
  • have a genetic disease such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome, or have one of these syndromes in first-degree relatives


Screening breast MRI is also recommended or should be considered if you fit the following:

  • have a personal history of breast cancer, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH), or atypical lobular hyperplasia (ALH)
  • have extremely dense breasts or unevenly dense breasts when viewed by mammograms


Yearly MRI screening is not recommended for women whose lifetime risk of breast cancer is less than 15%.

Should I have a breast MRI before breast cancer surgery?
Breast MRI detects otherwise occult cancer with an overall added cancer yield of 12% and a high positive predicitive value of 44% when applied to a diverse population of patients with newly diagnosed breast cancer according to a recent study. ( Robert L. Gutierrez, Constance Lehman MD AJR. 2011 ).


How will my Breast MR be done?
You will be asked to arrive 30 minutes before your appointment time. The entire study will take 45 minutes to an hour. Unless you were recently diagnosed with breast cancer, this exam should be scheduled 7-10 days after the start of your menstrual cycle. This timing is important to minimize false positive findings that can occur due to hormonal influence on the breast tissue.

During the exam, you will lie on your stomach with your arms over your head. The MR table will move in with your head first. Please avoid eating a large meal prior to the exam. You will receive an injection of contrast material called gadolinium during the exam. A small intravenous catheter will be placed in your hand or arm before the actual study. This injection of contrast material is necessary for detecting breast cancer. The contrast we use is extremely safe and adverse reactions are rare.

You will be asked to lie very still and breathe normally. The MRI scan will only take 25-30 minutes.

You cannot have an MRI if you have any of the following:

  • Cardiac Pacemaker
  • Artificial heart valve prostheses\
  • Aneurysm clips
  • Eye implants or metal ear implants or any metal implants activated electronically, magnetically or mechanically.
  • Copper 7 IUD
  • Shrapnel or non-removed bullet
  • Pregnancy
  • Claustrophobia
  • Any metal puncture(s) or fragment(s) in eye


Why is a blood test being ordered?
Although Gadolinium is a safe contrast agent, our office will sometimes order a kidney function test. A Creatinine level or GFR (Glomerular Filtration Rate) will be needed if you:

  • Are over the age of 60 years
  • being treated for high blood pressure
  • has diabeties
  • has liver desease
  • has/had kidney failure, kidney surgery, one kidney

If you have a recent (within 6 weeks ) blood test from a lab, please furnish that information to us prior to your appointment.


What if I had tests at other facilities?
It is important to bring any breast imaging tests (mammography, ultrasound or MRI) with you to your appointment. Our radiologists will use these tests for comparison with your MRI.


How do I schedule for a breast MRI?
A referral from your physician is needed. For questions or to schedule, call Advanced Medical Imaging at 860-489-7314.