Unlike Digital mammography, which uses X-rays to capture images of the breast, breast MRI uses magnets and radio waves to produce detailed 3-dimensional images of the breast tissue.
Things to Know About the Breast MRI
You may be given a contrast solution (dye) injected into your arm through an intravenous line before the test.
What to expect when getting Breast MRI:
For the breast MRI, you will need to pull down your hospital gown to your waist or open it in front to expose your breasts. Then you lie on your stomach on a padded platform with cushioned openings for your breasts. Each opening is surrounded by a breast coil, which is a signal receiver that works with the MRI unit to create the images.
The platform then slides into the center of the tube-shaped MRI machine. You won’t feel the magnetic field and radio waves around you, but you will hear a loud thumping sound. You will need to be very still during the test, which takes around 30 to 45 minutes. If you’re claustrophobic, being confined within an MRI machine for an extended period can be difficult. Some facilities have an open MRI machine to avoid this problem, or you may be given a mild sedative.
How to prepare for your Breast MRI:
You might find it easier to wear a skirt or pants, so that you’ll only need to remove your top and bra for the Breast MRI.
Always describe any breast changes or problems you’re having to the technologist doing the breast MRI. Also describe any medical history that could affect your breast cancer risk—such as surgery, hormone use, breast cancer in your family, or if you’ve had breast cancer before.
Before getting any type of imaging test, tell the technologist if you’re breastfeeding or if you think you might be pregnant.
Because the technology uses strong magnets, it is essential that you remove anything metal—jewelry, snaps, belts, earrings, zippers, etc.—before the test. The technologist also will ask you if you have any metal implanted in your body, such as a pacemaker or artificial joint.