Skip to content

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the Breast

How It Is Done continued...

You will need to take off your clothes above the waist. You will be given a gown to cover your shoulders during the test. Empty your pockets of any coins and cards (such as credit cards or ATM cards) with scanner strips on them because the MRI magnet may erase the information on the cards.

During the test

During the test, you will lie on your stomach on a table that is part of the MRI scanner. Straps may be used to help keep your body in the best position. The table will slide into the machine part that holds the magnet. A device called a coil may be placed over or wrapped around the breast area.

Inside the scanner, you will hear a fan and feel air moving. You may also hear tapping or thumping noises as the MRI scans are taken. You may be given earplugs or headphones with music to lessen the noise. It is very important to hold completely still while the scan is being done. Otherwise, repeat scans may be needed. Also, you may be asked to hold your breath for short periods of time.

During the test, you may be alone in the scanner room. But the technologist will watch you through a window, and you will be able to talk to him or her through a speaker.

If contrast material is needed, the technologist will put it in a vein (intravenous, or IV) in your arm. The contrast material may be given over 1 to 2 minutes. Then more MRI scans are taken.

An MRI test usually takes 30 to 60 minutes but may last as long as 2 hours.

How It Feels

You will not have pain from the magnetic field or radio waves. The table you lie on may feel hard and the room may be cool. You may become uncomfortable from lying in one position for a long time.

Some people feel anxious (claustrophobic) inside the MRI machine. You may be given medicine (sedative) to help you relax.

If dye is used, you may feel some coolness and flushing as it is put into your vein.

In rare cases, you may feel:

  • A tingling sensation in your mouth if you have metal dental fillings.
  • Warmth in the breast. This is normal and does not need treatment unless it becomes bothersome. Tell the technologist if you:
    • Have any breathing problems.
    • Feel sick to your stomach.
    • Have a headache.
    • Feel dizzy.
    • Have pain.
    • Feel a burning sensation.
    • Have itchy skin.

Risks

There are no known harmful effects from the strong magnetic field used for MRI. But the magnet is very powerful. The magnet may affect pacemakers, implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), artificial limbs, and other medical devices that contain iron.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 08, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
 
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
 
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
VIDEO
Resolved To Quit Smoking
SLIDESHOW
 
Woman getting mammogram
Article
Screening Tests for Women
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
serious woman
Article
 
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow
SLIDESHOW