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MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is recommended for patients with a high risk for breast cancer.
MRI may performed be to look closer at abnormities found on mammography, or to evaluate breast implants for ruptures or leaks. If you have had a biopsy with a high risk or cancer diagnosis, MRI may be used to determine the extent of the tumor.
While MRI is highly sensitive, it does not take away the need for mammography since it may not pick up the earliest forms of breast cancer. It is important that breast MRI’s be done only at facilities that are capable of performing MRI-guided breast biopsies. If an abnormality requiring intervention is found, the appropriate procedures can then be performed.
MRI uses magnets to obtain thousands of images in multiple directions, or planes, of the breast. Using a dye administered through an IV, the breast MRI produces very detailed images of the breast, alerting the radiologist to the behavior of the breast tissue. Certain medical issues may prohibit you from receiving a breast MRI, so it important to let the technologists know if you have allergies, are pregnant or nursing, or if you have breast implants.
Since the MRI uses strong magnets, the staff will also ask if you have any metal inside your body such as rods, screws, pace-makers, staples or tattoos. Some metal objects can cause problems with the MRI so it is important to provide as much information as possible.
During a breast MRI, you will be asked to remove all clothing that may have metal like buttons, snaps and zippers. After the IV is placed in your arm, you will be asked to lay on your stomach with your breasts falling into spaces built into the MRI table. The table is then moved into a tube-like machine containing the magnet. You will need to be very still during the exam which lasts approximately 45 minutes.
After the MRI scan, the images are reviewed by a radiologist just as with a mammogram or ultrasound.
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