Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the Breast
How It Is Done
An MRI of the breast is usually done by
an MRI technologist. A
radiologist usually studies the pictures to look for
problems. But some other types of doctors may also do this.
Before the test
You will need to remove all metal
objects (such as hearing aids, dentures, jewelry, watches, and hairpins) from
your body because these objects may be attracted to the powerful magnet used
for the test. If there is a possibility that you have metal fragments in your
eyes from an accident or a surgery or because you work around metal, an X-ray
or a CT scan will be done before the MRI to see if any metal is present. An
X-ray or CT may also be done if there is a concern about metal fragments in
your head or spine.
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
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.
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
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.