MRI Breast Procedure Information

Your doctor has recommended you for a noninvasive breast MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Our team of subspecialty imaging physicians, imaging nurses and certified technologists is headed by Rola Saouaf, MD, chief of Body and Cardiac MRI.

When Scheduling Your Exam

  • For optimal image quality, please schedule your breast MRI seven to 10 days after the first day of your menstrual cycle.
  • You may eat and drink before this exam.
  • Our team considers several factors to ensure that your MR scan is safe. Please let us know before you schedule your study whether you are pregnant or nursing, and/or if you have a magnetic expander implant or a pacemaker. If you are on hormone replacement therapy or BCP, please consult your doctor about discontinuing the therapy for one month before the study.
  • Some patients become fearful or agitated in small, enclosed areas (claustrophobic) or experience discomfort when lying on their chest for 45 minutes. If you dislike small spaces or have difficulty lying down on your stomach, please ask your referring physician to prescribe a relaxant or pain medication to help you through the exam. The imaging physicians at Cedars-Sinai cannot prescribe such medications for you.
  • If you plan to take relaxation medication before your exam, it is our policy that you come with someone who can drive you home.
  • For studies that involve IV contrast: If you have veins that are small or hard to find, or have a port, please arrive 60 minutes before your scheduled arrival time.
  • If you have received a mammogram at a different facility within the past two years, it is helpful to your evaluation to bring it with you at the time of your exam. You should be able to get a copy of your films by contacting the facility that performed the exam.
  • We want to make any time you may have to wait as pleasant as possible. Consider bringing your favorite magazine, book or music player to help you pass the time before the exam.
  • If your doctor gave you an order, please bring it with you.
  • When you schedule your exam, you will be given an arrival time and a scan time. Please arrive at the arrival time, since 45 minutes is required for registration and preparation before your scan.
  • You will be asked to change into a gown. Lockers are provided in the changing room for your valuables, although you may want to leave them at home.
  • Before arriving, you can print and fill out the Breast MRI Questionnaire, MRI Questionnaire, and the MRI and Pregnancy form from the Pre-Registration Questionnaire page before arriving to speed the registration process.

During Your Exam

  • You will be asked to change into a gown in our changing area, where you can lock your valuables in a locker.
  • A technologist will walk you to the MR suite and explain the procedure to you.
  • You will be asked to lie face down with your breast in a special device known as a coil. The coil is used to improve image quality and is designed to optimize patient care and comfort. The coils we use can be customized for each breast of every patient. A premium headrest enhances your comfort. Your arms will be at your side. We also provide a massage headrest for your comfort.
  • Breast imaging is very sensitive to motion. Even the slightest movement or position adjustment during the exam may cause inaccurate findings. Therefore it is very important that you make yourself comfortable and lay motionless until the exam is completed.
  • The scanning table will slide your entire body into the magnet.
  • During the scan you will not feel anything, but will hear intermittent humming, thumping, clicking, and knocking sounds. Earplugs will be provided to help mask the noise.
  • In most cases, the imaging physician requests a contrast agent (dye) to improve the quality of the images. The dye is injected into a vein in the arm, and may cause a cool sensation. If the breast MRI is for implant integrity only, then no contrast is needed. For evaluation for possible cancer, contrast is needed.
  • The technologist is always able to see and hear you during the exam, but we attempt to keep talking to a minimum to reduce the chance of movement, which can blur the images.
  • After the exam, the IV will be removed from your arm.

After Your Exam

  • After a breast MR there are no restrictions placed upon you. You may eat or drive as normal, although if you took relaxation medication, you will need someone to drive you home.
  • Your films 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.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 310-423-8000.

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.