Breast MRI

Breast MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is an advanced imaging tool that, when used in conjunction with annual screening mammograms, gives your physician the best chance of detecting cancers.

Breast MRI can also be useful for determining the best course of treatment for women who have been newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast MRI does not take the place of mammography, but is used to supplement the information that mammography provides.

Breast MRI may be ordered to evaluate:

  • Abnormal breast tissue identified through mammography or ultrasound
  • Very dense breast tissue
  • Breast implants
  • A mass that can be felt during a manual breast examination


A Breast MRI Biopsy may also be required to make a definitive diagnosis. MRI-Guided Breast Biopsy is a minimally invasive procedure, requiring a shorter recovery time than traditional surgical biopsy.

How Do I Prepare for My Breast MRI or Breast Biopsy?
When you schedule your appointment, you will be asked a series of screening questions to determine if there is anything in your history that might prevent you from having an MRI.


If you have a history of renal impairment, diabetes, or hypertension, you will need to obtain a blood test (GFR) to determine if your kidneys are functioning well enough to receive Gadolinium, an intravenous contrast agent typically used in breast MRI. Please have your blood testing done at least 48 hours prior to your MRI appointment.


If your mammogram or breast ultrasound was done at a facility other than Washington Health System Women’s Health Services, it is very important that you bring your films or CD of the exams with you to your appointment.


The Day of the Examination

  • You may eat and drink normally
  • You may take your medications
  • Report directly to the Admitting department on the 2nd floor (main lobby)
  • You will be directed to the MRI department on the ground floor of the Washington Health System Washington Hospital
  • Bring any prior mammography or ultrasound films with you if they were not performed at Washington Health System Women’s Health Services
  • Plan on being in the department for approximately one hour
  • You will read and sign a consent form
  • You will change into a special wrap-around patient gown
  • Remove any metal objects including your watch, body piercings, glasses and hearing aids. You will be assigned a locker to store your personal items
  • Please leave valuables and jewelry at home


Breast MRI

  • You will be asked to lie on your stomach on a table that slides into the MRI scanner
  • Your breasts will hang through specially-cushioned openings
  • During your scan, the technologist will monitor you through a large window and communicate with you via an intercom
  • All MRI scanners generate some vibrations and make some knocking and pinging noises while they are acquiring the images
  • Ear plugs or headphones for noise reduction are available for your use
  • You must hold still while the MRI is being performed because any movement will cause the images to be out of focus and the test may need to be repeated


Is It Safe to Have an MRI?
It is not safe for you to have an MRI if you have any of the following:

  • Pacemaker
  • Implanted defibrillators
  • Cochlear implant
  • Breast tissue expander
  • Metallic fragments in your eyes
  • Surgical clips from surgeries in the prior six weeks


Some things might or might not be compatible with MRI. Our medical staff will determine if it is safe for you to have an MRI if you have any of the following:

  • Spinal cord stimulator
  • Aneurysm clips
  • Metallic implants
  • Surgical staples or clips
  • Prosthetic Heart valves
  • Stents
  • Neurostimulators
  • Tattoos
  • Recent surgery or procedure
  • Pregnancy
  • Medication patches
  • Non-removable body piercings
  • Prosthetic heart valves