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Breast MRI guide

MRI magnetic resonance imaging is a safe, non-invasive diagnostic imaging procedure. MRI uses radio waves, a magnet, and computer software to obtain two- and three-dimensional (3D) images of the inside of the body. These images are used for detecting and treating various diseases in their early stages.

How do I prepare for my scan?

Your breast MRI appointment should be scheduled between day 10 and day 15 of your menstrual cycle. Day 1 being the first day that you menstruate. If you are post menopausal, appointments can be made at your convenience.

Your MRI appointment will be made directly by our team of MRI technologists.

It is very important to bring all previous breast imaging (previous MRI, mammogram and ultrasound) reports and CD images/films on the day of the exam for the radiologist to review and to have a comprehensive impression of your breast health.

Metal and electronic objects can interfere with the MRI’s magnetic field and are not allowed in the exam room.

Please ensure the following are removed prior to your MRI scan:

In most cases, an MRI exam is safe for patients with metal implants, except for a few types. (see ‘Is Breast MRI safe?’).

Prior to your scan at Allied Diagnostics you will be required to complete an MRI safety Questionnaire and inform the technologist if you have medical or electronic devices in your body, such as:

Is Breast MRI safe?

Yes, MRI examination poses no risk to the average patient.

People who have had heart surgery and people with the following medical devices can be safely examined with MRI:

Some conditions may make an MRI examination inadvisable. Tell your doctor if you have any of the following conditions:

In addition, tell your doctor if you:

I have breast implants – can I have a Breast MRI?

Yes, Breast MRI is recognized as the “Gold Standard” of imaging used to assess breast implants. If you have breast implants, it is important that you inform the booking coordinator when making your breast MRI appointment. We will also need to know if your implants are filled with saline, silicone or oil, or a combination of these. In addition, we need to know if the implant has a polyvinyl chloride sponge covering prior to your exam.

What can I expect during my MRI study?

After your medical interview, you will be asked to remove any jewelry, hair clips, hearing aids, or other objects that may interfere with the MRI study. You may also be asked to change into an examination gown if your clothes have metal buttons or zippers. After changing into a patient gown, you will be led to the MRI suite.

Next, the technologist will position you on the table of the MRI unit. No radiation is involved, and there is no flattening or compression of the breast. The patient lies face-down on a special table so the breasts are suspended through an opening into unique ‘coils’ that transmit and receive the radio frequency signals used in MRI.

Once you are properly positioned, the table will begin moving you into the MRI tunnel until the area being studied is in the center of the magnet. It is essential that you remain completely still during the study. You may even be asked to hold your breath. This is because movement can blur the images, making the study less accurate. At Allied Diagnostics the HDx 1.5T MRI has a large opening to alleviate feelings of claustrophobia. Earplugs and/or music are provided to diminish the sound of the MRI.

How long does it take?

The average Breast MRI exam takes about 30 to 45 minutes.

Will I need an injection?

Yes, a contrast medium injection will be given to enhance the images. Breast cancers have a rich blood supply, so tumors ‘light up’ on MRI, helping to distinguish them from normal breast tissue. These are called areas of ‘enhancement’. It is the contrast agent, gadolinium that makes Breast MRI sensitive in cancer detection. When there is no enhancement, the radiologist can exclude the possibility of a lesion with about 95% confidence. Gadolinium is not the same as x-ray dye which contains iodine, and the likelihood of negative reaction is negligible.

When will I get the results?

The results of your scan will be sent to your referring physician within 24 hours of your exam. Your report and images will include a summary of the radiologist’s findings and recommendations for further follow-up.

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