Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) produces images using a strong magnet and radio waves. It is a sensitive test for the detection of breast cancer, but does not take the place of mammography. Mammography is the exam of choice to screen for breast cancer. The MRI exam requires the administration of contrast material through an IV. Breast MRI is not for everyone. It cannot be performed in patients who have pacemakers, defibrillators, or other implanted electronic devices.
There are several reasons why your doctor may request a breast MRI exam:
Recent diagnosis of breast cancer with moderate or extremely dense breast tissue on mammography which may hide additional tumor deposits
Certain breast cancer patients before chemotherapy is used in an attempt to shrink the tumor before surgery
High risk population such as genetic mutation carriers of the BRCA1 AND BRCA2 genes, personal history of breast cancer, prior breast biopsy which showed abnormal cells, strong family history of breast cancer, previous chest radiation for Hodgkin's Lymphoma at a young age (under 30 years)
Patients with silicone breast implants with a question of implant rupture
Your health care provider will be able to give you additional details about this exam, but a general idea of what to expect is provided below.