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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the Breast

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.

If you may have metal fragments in your eyes, an MRI can cause damage to the retina. If there is a concern about metal fragments in the eye, most MRI clinics will do X-rays of the eyes before the MRI. If metal is found on the X-ray, the MRI will not be done.

Iron pigments in tattoos or tattooed eyeliner can cause skin or eye irritation problems.

An MRI can cause a burn with some medicine patches. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are wearing a patch.

Contrast material that contains gadolinium may cause a serious problem (called nephrogenic systemic fibrosis) in people who have kidney failure.

There is a small risk of having an allergic reaction if contrast material is used during the MRI scan. Most reactions are mild and can be treated with medicine. There is also a small risk of infection at the IV site.

An MRI may be more likely than other tests to report a problem in the breast when a problem is not there (false-positive). A false-positive result may lead to more tests such as a biopsy when no serious problem is really present. So MRI is not used as a screening test for women at low or average risk for breast cancer.

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.

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