What is breast MRI
Breast MRI is a type of imaging test that uses magnets and radio waves to detect abnormalities in the breast. MRI gives doctors the ability to see the soft tissues in your body. If they suspect you have breast abnormalities, your doctor may ask you to have an MRI of your breasts.
Why is an MRI of the breast done?
Breast MRI is used to examine the breasts when other imaging tests are inadequate or incomplete, to detect breast cancer in women at high risk of infection, and to monitor the progression of breast cancer and its effectiveness in treatment.
The doctor may also order a breast MRI if you have:
- Breast tissue
- Signs of breast cancer
- Family history of breast cancer
- Broken or leaking breast implants
- The lump in the breast
- Substantial changes in the breasts
Breast MRIs should be used with mammograms. Breast MRIs can detect many abnormalities, and there are some breast cancers that mammography can visualize well.
Risk factors for breast MRI
MRI is considered a safe alternative to radiation scans that use radiation, such as CT scans for pregnant women. While the radiation levels on CT scans are safe for adults, they are not safe for developing fetuses. There is no evidence to suggest that the magnetic fields and radio waves in a breast MRI scan are harmful.
Although safer than CT scans, breast MRIs have a few things to do:
- “False positive” results: An MRI does not always tell the difference between cancerous and non-cancerous growths, so it can detect the masses that appear when there is no cancer. You may need a biopsy to confirm the results of your test.
- Allergic reaction: MRIs use colors embedded in the bloodstream to easily view images. This color is known to cause allergic reactions, as well as serious problems in people with kidney problems.
How to prepare for a breast MRI
Before your MRI, your doctor will describe the test and review your complete medical and physical history. At this point, inform your doctor about any medications you are taking or about known allergies. Please inform your doctor if you have any medical device that has been tested as it may be affected by the test.
Tell your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction to Contrast Dyke or if you have been diagnosed with a kidney problem. If you are pregnant, you should also inform your doctor that you may be pregnant or breastfeeding. Breast MRIs are not considered safe for pregnant women, and nursing mothers should not breastfeed their babies for up to two days after the test.
It is also important to schedule your MRI at the beginning of your cycle. The best time to do this is between seven and 14 days into your build cycle. The MRI machine is in a tight, enclosed space, so tell your doctor if you are claustrophobic. Your doctor may give you a sedative to help you relax. In severe cases, your doctor may choose an “open” MRI where the machine is not close to your body. Your doctor can better explain your options.
How is an MRI of the breast performed?
An MRI machine consists of a flat table that slides in and out of the machine. The round, wheel-shaped part emits magnets and radio waves to create images of your breast. Before the scan, you put on a hospital gown and remove all jewellery and body piercings. If you are using a contrast dye, an IV is inserted into your hand to allow the dye to enter the bloodstream.
In the MRI room, you will lie on your stomach on a soft table. There will be depressions on the table where your breasts rest. The technician puts it in the machine. The technician will instruct you on when to stand up and when to hold your breath. The technician is in a separate room, looking at the monitors that collect the images, and therefore these instructions are given through the microphone.
You may not feel like the machine is working, but you may hear loud noises like clocks or thumps and maybe a noise. A technician can give you earplugs. The test can take up to an hour. Once the images are recorded, you can switch and exit.
Breast MRI results
The radiologist will review your breast MRI, prescribe your interpretation results, and give the results to your doctor, who will review them after receiving the results. Your doctor will be in close contact to discuss your results or schedule your next appointment. MRI images are black and white images. Tumors and other abnormalities appear as bright white spots. These white spots are where the contrast dye accumulates due to enhanced cellular action.
If your MRI shows mass cancer, your doctor may order a biopsy as a follow-up test. It is the surgical removal of a small sample of tissue from a suspicious lump. A biopsy can help your doctor determine whether the lump is cancerous or not.