MRI is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.
MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, bone and virtually all other internal Body structures. The images can then be examined on a computer monitor, transmitted electronically, printed or copied to a CD.
MRI does not use ionizing radiation (x-ray).
Why should I do it ?
MRI of the breast is not a replacement for mammography or ultrasound imaging but rather a supplemental tool that has many important uses, including:
- Screening in women at high risk for breast cancer
- Determining the extent of cancer after a new diagnosis of breast cancer
- After being diagnosed with breast cancer, a breast MRI may be performed to determine: how large the cancer is and whether it involves the underlying muscle.
- If there are other cancers in the same breast and whether there is an unsuspected cancer in the opposite breast.
- If there are any abnormally large lymph nodes in the armpit, which can be a sign the cancer has spread to that site.
- Further evaluating hard-to-assess abnormalities seen on mammography
- In rare cases where mammography and ultrasound cannot adequately detect breast abnormalities, MRI can be used to definitively determine if it needs biopsy or Can safely be left alone.
- Evaluating lumpectomy sites in the years following breast cancer treatment
- MRI can differentiate between scarring and recurrent cancer.
- Following chemotherapy treatment in patients getting neo-adjuvant Chemotherapy
- MRI is often used to monitor how well the preoperative chemotherapy is working and the amount of tumor still present before surgery.
- Evaluating breast implants
- MRI is the best test for determining whether silicone implants have ruptured.
Any preparations needed?
- You may need to wear a hospital gown. Or you may be allowed to wear your own clothing if it is loose-fitting and has no metal fasteners.
- Guidelines about eating and drinking before an MRI vary between specific exams and facilities. Unless you are told otherwise, take food and medications as usual.
- Tell the technologist or radiologist if you have any serious health problems or recently had surgery.
- If you have claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces) or anxiety, you may want to ask your doctor to prescribe a mild sedative prior to your exam.
Leave all jewelry and other accessories at home or remove them prior to the MRI scan. Metal and electronic items can interfere with the magnetic field of the MRI unit, and they are not allowed in the exam room. They may cause burns or become harmful projectiles within the MRI scanner room. These items include:
- jewelry, watches, credit cards and hearing aids, all of which can be damaged
- pins, hairpins, metal zippers and similar metallic items, which can distort MRI images
- removable dental work
- pens, pocket knives and eyeglasses
- body piercings
- Mobile phones, electronic watches and tracking devices.
In most cases, an MRI exam is safe for patients with metal implants, except for a few types. People with the following implants may not be scanned and should not enter the MRI scanning area without first being evaluated for safety:
- some cochlear (ear) implants
- some types of clips used for brain aneurysms
- some types of metal coils placed within blood vessels
- some older cardiac defibrillators and pacemakers
- Tell the technologist if you have medical or electronic devices in your body. These devices may interfere with the exam or pose a risk. Many implanted devices will have a pamphlet explaining the MRI risks for that particular device. If you have the pamphlet, bring it to the attention of the scheduler before the exam. MRI cannot be performed without confirmation and documentation of the type of implant and MRI compatibility. You should also bring any pamphlet to your exam in case the
- Tell the technologist or radiologist about any shrapnel, bullets, or other metal that may be in your body. Foreign bodies near and especially lodged in the eyes are very important because they may move or heat up during the scan and cause blindness. Dyes used in tattoos may contain iron and could heat up during an MRI scan. This is rare. Tooth fillings, braces, eye shadows and other cosmetics usually are not affected by the magnetic field. However, they may distort images of the facial area or brain. Tell the radiologist about them.