MRI Breast FAQ

A breast MR image.

Breast MR is used to assess the breast, including:

  • Abnormalities
  • To screen women for breast cancer, especially those with a strong family history, such as someone with:
    • A sister or mother who has had breast cancer before age 50
    • An aunt or cousin who has had breast or ovarian cancer
  • To determine the extent of cancer after a new diagnosis of breast cancer
  • To evaluate a lumpectomy site years after a breast cancer treatment 
  • To evaluate breast implants

Breast MR provides additional information and serves as a compliment to mammography. Breast MR is not a replacement for a mammogram.

An MRI study provides 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-rays).

No. MRI works on the basis of magnets. No radiation is involved.

No. Unlike a mammogram, no compression of your breasts is required for a breast MRI.

A female technician will position you. While doing so, a privacy screen will ensure that no one can see into the MR room.

Yes. At all times during the scan, a certified MRI Technologist will be in two-way communication with you. It is crucial that while a series of images is being taken, you remain still or the images may be blurred, which may mean the sequence of scans has to be redone. You can tell when images are being taken by changes in the noise the MR machine makes.

You will be given a small bulb to hold. If you squeeze it, the technician can stop the study to assist you. If you do so, the study will not have to be redone. However, a sequence of images may need to be repeated.

For the exam, you will be in the MRI machine for about 45 minutes, during which you will need to lie still on your stomach, your arms laying by your side or above your head. You will be at the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center for about two hours.

The number of sequences taken depends on your particular case. The subspecialized breast MR radiologist will determine how many sequences are required for you.

Your scan will be examined by an imaging physician and a report sent to your doctor. Your doctor will review the results with you and discuss what they mean in relation to your health. 

The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center provides a full range of advanced imaging, both radiology and cardiology, as well as interventional radiology and interventional tumor (oncology) treatments to the greater Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, Encino, Mid-Cities, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, Studio City, Toluca Lake and West Hollywood.