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Breast MRI

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by McCoy K

(Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Breast)



MRI uses magnetic fields to make images of the inside of the body. A computer produces two- and three-dimensional pictures. MRI of the breast uses an MRI to evaluate breast tissue.

Reasons for Test

Breast MRI can be used to:
Breast Cysts
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What to Expect

Prior to test

Leading up to the test:
  • Try to schedule the test between days 5 and 15 of your menstrual cycle. This is a time when the breast tissue is less dense.
  • If your doctor prescribes a sedative:
    • Arrange for a ride home.
    • Take the sedative 1-2 hours before the exam, or as directed.
Once at the MRI center:
You may be:
  • Given earplugs or headphones to wear (The MRI machine makes a loud banging noise.)
  • Allowed to have a family member or friend with you during the test

Description of the Test

You will lie face down on your stomach on a moveable bed. The bed will slide into a large, cylindrical magnet. Your breasts will hang into cushioned openings. You may be hooked up to monitors. These monitors will track your pulse, heart rate, and breathing. The technician will be in another room and give you directions via an intercom. A magnetic field will be produced to generate three-dimensional images of your breast tissue. As this happens, you will hear loud banging noises.
The MRI may require contrast dye to make the pictures better. In this case, you will receive an IV in your hand or arm. Contrast material will be injected through the IV.

After the Test

You will need to wait until the images are examined. In some cases, the technician may need to take more images.
  • If you took a sedative, do not drive, operate machinery, or make important decisions until the sedative wears off completely.
  • If you are breastfeeding and receive a contrast dye, you and your doctor should discuss when you should start breastfeeding again. Information available has not found any ill effects to a baby if a mother has had contrast dye.

How Long Will It Take?

About 1-½ hours

Will It Hurt?



The MRI images will be sent to a radiologist. Your doctor will receive the report and talk to you about the results.


American Cancer Society

National Cancer Institute



Canadian Cancer Society

National Cancer Institute of Canada



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