Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Breast MRI is the most sensitive technique for breast imaging and is useful for women who have high-risk factors, dense tissue, or known breast cancer. As a complementary tool to mammography and ultrasound, breast MRI may be used to distinguish between benign (noncancerous) and malignant (cancerous) tissue, and as guidance for biopsy.

The Radiologists at Arcadia Radiology Medical Group recognize that breast MRI is a powerful tool to screen these high-risk women, but acknowledge that false positive results can cause unnecessary concerns. Therefore, we make use of computer-aided diagnosis and high-resolution ultrasound prior to breast MRI testing to avoid false alarms that an MRI might generate. MRI is not a substitute for a screening mammogram.

What is a Breast MRI?

A breast MRI is a procedure that uses Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), an imaging device that creates a combination of magnetic fields and radio waves (no radiation) to produce images of the human anatomy, specifically breast tissue. Each exam produces hundreds of images and 3-dimensional views of the breast. This information allows for improved surgical and treatment decision-making. The procedure, like many other MRI procedures, is pain free except for a brief intravascular injection into the breast. This injection is used by the radiologist to determine where there is elevated blood flow, and therefore whether or not cancerous cells are present.

What circumstances call for a Breast MRI?

In most circumstances, mammography, ultrasound, and physical examinations will be sufficient for a diagnostic assessment. Breast MRI is used in two special circumstances:

What are the benefits of having a Breast MRI?

Early detection improves survival and expands treatment options. MRI is more accurate in evaluating these features:

These measurements impact the type of treatment you receive such as a lumpectomy or a mastectomy

Who are prime candidates for a Breast MRI?
How do I prepare for a Breast MRI?

Patients scheduled for a breast MRI do not necessarily need to make any preparations for the procedure, however it's advised:

What can I expect during and after the Breast MRI exam?

During a breast MRI examination, patients who have a contrasting agent will receive an IV injection before the images are taken, so that various tissues can be highlighted for the Radiologist to see. For the exam, you will lie on your stomach while your breasts are placed in a cushion (or coils). These breast coils will be used in order to create the images for the breast MRI. The technologist will gently move the table you are lying on into the center of the MRI machine, and you will be instructed not to move to avoid blurring of images. You will hear periodic thumping noises at different intensities.

There are no particular instructions for patients after an MRI is taken, except to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician to go over the Radiologist's findings.

If I have implants, what is a Breast Implant Evaluation?

This breast MRI evaluation is only concerned about the rupture of an implant and does not assess the surrounding tissue for the existence of breast cancer. There is no injection required. Implant rupture has no relationship to breast cancer. The exam takes about 45 minutes.

If I have implants, what is a Breast Tissue Evaluation?

This evaluation reviews the breast tissue rather than the implant. This exam requires a contrast injection to provide information. The breast MRI's are performed Arcadia Women's Imaging Center's main facility: Arcadia Radiology Medical Group located on the same campus. This exam takes about 45 minutes.

When will I get the breast MRI results and how?

In general, results are available to your referring physician within 24 hours. As a service to our patients, you may also request a CD of your results from the facility where your examination took place.