Breast MRI is a highly sensitive, noninvasive diagnostic tool that is often used in conjunction with mammography and ultrasound. It helps physicians evaluate the extent of a breast cancer, as well as establish a treatment plan and monitor a patient’s response to chemotherapy. This advanced technology is also a valuable screening tool for patients considered to be at high risk for breast cancer whether due to strong family history and or genetic risk, personal history or other risk factors. Breast MRI is available at our Brighton location.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, is an advanced, state-of-the-art, medical imaging method. Breast MRI uses a powerful but harmless magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of the breast and its internal structures. No radiation is used for MRI imaging. The average Breast MRI appointment takes about one hour. Actual scan time is only about 20 minutes. Before the exam, you may eat and drink as usual and take medications as you normally would.
MRI scans pose minimal risks to most patients if safety guidelines are followed. One of our MRI staff will be calling you in advance of your appointment to go over these guidelines and the specifics of your exam.
Breast MRI is a relatively comfortable and easy exam. You will be asked to lie on your stomach on a cushioned bed. Your breasts will be positioned within a padded opening on the bed. The bed will move into the magnet for the exam and you will hear a muffled thumping sound intermittently throughout the scan. The most important thing you can do to make sure your exam is successful is to hold as still as you can throughout the procedure.
Most breast MRI exams require an injection of a contrast agent called gadolinium. An intravenous catheter (I.V.) for this injection will be placed in your arm before you lie on the bed. Please tell us if you have ever had an allergic reaction to MRI contrast in the past (or any other contrast agent), or if you have any renal (kidney) disease.
- Have a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
- Have a first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister, or child) with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation and have not had genetic testing themselves
- Have a lifetime risk of developing breast cancer ≥20%, according to risk assessment tools, that are based mainly on family history
- Had radiation therapy to the chest when they’re between the ages of 10 and 30 years
- Have Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome, or have one of these syndromes in first-degree relatives.
If MRI is used, it should be in addition to, not instead of, a yearly screening mammogram. This is because while an MRI is a more sensitive test, it may still not detect some cancers that a mammogram can.
In the majority of high risk women, screening with MRI and mammography should begin at age 30 years and continue for as long as a woman is in good health. But because the evidence is limited regarding the best age at which to start screening, this decision should be based on shared decision making between patients and their health care providers, taking into account personal circumstances and preferences.
Several risk assessment tools, with names such as BRCAPRO, the Claus model, the Tyrer-Cuzick and the Gail model, are available to help health professionals estimate a woman’s breast cancer risk. These tools give approximate, rather than precise, estimates of breast cancer risk based on different combinations of risk factors and different data sets. As a result, they may give different risk estimates for the same woman. Their results should be discussed by a woman and her doctor when being used to decide on whether to start MRI screening. EWBC has resources available to calculate your individual lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.
There is no evidence at this time that MRI will be an effective screening tool for women at average risk. While MRI is more sensitive than mammograms, it also has a higher false-positive rate (where the test finds something that turns out not to be cancer), which could result in unnecessary biopsies and other tests in a large portion of these women.
Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health. A clinical breast exam by your doctor or health care provider (CBE) should be part of a periodic health exam, about every three years for women in their twenties and thirties and every year for women forty and over.
Women should know how their breasts normally feel and report any breast change promptly to their health care providers. Breast Self Exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their twenties. Women at high risk (greater than 20% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer) should get an MRI and a mammogram every year. Women at moderately increased risk (>15% to < 20% lifetime risk) should talk with their doctors about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI screening to their yearly mammogram. This risk is determined by using standard risk assessment tools based mainly on family history.
MRI Safety & Information about your MRI Exam
Please review the following checklist prior to your exam:
- If you think you may be claustrophobic, ask your doctor to prescribe medication prior to the exam. If you do receive medication, bring someone with you to drive you home.
- You CANNOT have the exam if you have any of the following: cerebral aneurysm clips, certain heart valves, cochlear implants, metal filings in the eye, or pacemaker.
- If your occupational background includes metal work (welder, grinder, etc.) please be sure to tell the technologist prior to the exam. This may require you to have an orbital x-ray prior to your MRI appointment to ensure no foreign bodies are Identified.
- You may eat and take your usual medications before the exam. Please make sure to drink extra fluids prior to appointment so you are well hydrated.
- Please dress comfortably - sweatpants and sneakers are perfect! Please don’t wear clothes with metal zippers, buttons or snaps; no metal is allowed in the MRI exam room we suggest bringing or wearing elastic waist pants which can be worn during the exam. You will be wearing a patient gown.
- No metal is allowed in the MRI exam room. Safety pins, straight pins, metal hair pins and all jewelry must be removed before entering the room.
- Safety pins, straight pins, metal hair pins and all jewelry must be removed before entering the room. If you have a ring (such as a wedding band) or other jewelry that cannot be removed, we will test it for magnetic attraction before you may enter the room.
- The average Breast MRI appointment takes about an hour. The actual scan takes approximately 20 minutes before the exam, you may eat and drink as usual and take medications as you normally would.
What you can expect during the exam
Breast MRI is a relatively comfortable and easy exam. You will be asked to lie on your stomach on a cushioned bed. Your breasts will be positioned within a padded opening on the bed. The bed will move into the magnet for the exam and you will hear a muffled thumping sound intermittently throughout the exam. The most important thing you can do to make sure your exam is successful is to hold as still as you can throughout the procedure.
Most breast MRI exams require an injection of a contrast agent called gadolinium. An intravenous catheter (I.V.) for this injection will be placed in your arm before you lie on the bed. Please tell us if you have ever had an allergic reaction to MRI contrast in the past (or any other contrast dye), or if you have any renal (kidney) disease.
Please help us TO ACCOMMODATE ALL OF OUR PATIENTS
Breast MRI is a very specialized procedure for which there are a limited number of available appointments. Our MRI schedule is very busy and runs on the hour. Therefore, it is important that you are here on time for your scheduled appointment. If it is necessary for you to cancel or reschedule your MRI appointment, please call our office at least 48 hours before your scheduled appointment. (585)442-2190, ext. 3015.There will be a $100 no show charge to any patient who misses an MRI appointment and has not given us the required cancellation notice.
Breast Implants and MRI
Breast MRI is sometimes used to image silicone breast implants. If you have breast implants, it is important that you tell the technologist when she calls you before your exam and approximately how many years you’ve had them.
Please note each insurance company has it’s own criteria to meet in order for coverage. Please check with your individual insurance provider to determine your coverage and eligibility for breast MRI. Our staff at EWBC can also help provide assistance and information to you and your PCP to help the process.