Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the Breast
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a magnetic field
and pulses of radio waves to make pictures of the breast. MRI may show problems
in the breast that cannot be seen on a mammogram,
The MRI makes pictures that
show your breast's normal structure; tissue damage or disease, such as
infection; inflammation; or a lump. MRI is better than
mammography or ultrasound for looking at some breast
In most cases, a dye (contrast material) may be used so that abnormalities can be seen more clearly
from normal breast tissue. The contrast material makes it easier to find
problems with increased or abnormal blood flow, such as with some types of
cancer or areas of inflammation.
MRI is a safe and valuable test
for looking at the breast, but it has a high rate of
false-positive results, and it is more costly than
other methods and is not available in all hospitals.
of a standard MRI machine and an
open MRI machine .
Why It Is Done
An MRI of the breast is done to:
breast cancer. Breast MRI may be done when a mammogram or breast ultrasound scan cannot tell if a lump is cancer.
- Check women who are at high risk for breast cancer. MRI may be recommended as a
screening tool for very high-risk women, such as those who test positive for
the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, or who have two or more close family members who have
had breast or ovarian cancer before age 50.
- Check women who have
dense breast tissue.
- Check the opposite breast. MRI is sometimes used to evaluate the
opposite breast in women diagnosed with certain types of
- See what stage of breast cancer is present so the
best treatment can be chosen.
- Look at breast tissue changes during
treatment for breast cancer.
- Check breasts with inverted nipples for any sign of breast
- Find a breast implant rupture. MRI of the breast is the
best test for this purpose.
- Look at a suspicious area of the breast
for women with breast implants.