Breast MRI

Women with dense breast tissue are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. While mammograms are the gold standard for breast cancer screening, some early-stage cancers are more difficult to detect on mammograms alone because dense breast tissue appears white on a mammogram and nodules.

A Breast MRI can serve as a supplemental exam for women with dense breasts, abnormal mammograms and other risk factors.

What is a Breast MRI?

Breast MRI uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create detailed pictures of the breast and surrounding tissue. These pictures show parts of the breast more clearly than ultrasound or mammogram.

How to prepare for a Breast MRI

We may ask patients not to eat or drink anything for four to six hours before the test. A Breast MRI is safe for women with most types of metal implants. Patients should tell the radiologist if they have:

  • Heart defibrillator or pacemaker
  • Recently placed artificial joints or artificial limbs
  • Metal pins, screws, plates, stents, or surgical staples
  • Artificial heart valve or vascular stent
  • Implanted nerve stimulator
  • Shrapnel, bullets, or other metal in their body from an accident

Patients with kidney disease or dialysis:

  • May not be able to receive the intravenous contrast dye used to detect cancer
  • May need a blood test to see if their kidneys are working well enough for the test

Patients with kidney disease or dialysis should also tell the radiologist if they worked with sheet metal in the past. They may need tests to check for metal pieces in their eyes.

Because the MRI has strong magnets, you can’t take any metal or electronic objects into the MRI room. This includes:

  • Jewelry, watches, credit cards, and hearing aids
  • Pins, hairpins, metal zippers, and similar metallic items, which can distort MRI images
  • Removable dental work
  • Pens, pocket knives, and eyeglasses
  • Body piercings

Most breast MRI tests take about 45 minutes. Referring physicians will receive images and an evaluation from Hillsborough Radiology within 8-48 hours.