MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) » Breast
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What is an MRI of the breast?
Unlike conventional x-rays, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) does not use radiation to highlight breast abnormalities. MRI is a painless imaging method that uses radio waves and the natural magnetic field emitted by your body to diagnose many types of injuries and conditions. MRI is now being used in conjunction with traditional mammography to aid in the diagnosis and management of breast cancer. With the aid of a powerful computer, the MRI scanner is able to produce hundreds of three-dimensional images of the breast, (side-to-side, top-to-bottom, front-to-back). MRI is also useful for the selection of proper treatment and management after cancer has been diagnosed. For women with breast implants, MRI is a valuable tool for detecting suspected leaks and ruptures.
A breast MRI to diagnose cancer requires an intravenous (IV) injection of contrast material or "dye" to highlight soft-tissue masses and structures of the breast. If cancerous tumors or growths are present the contrast material will highlight them as bright white on the MRI image.
What is IV Contrast?
Contrast material is a solution that is injected into your veins and appears very bright white on an MRI image. It is filtered from your blood by your kidneys and will be passed, unnoticed, from your body in your urine. You may safely drive home after having contrast material.
How should I prepare for an MRI exam?
Your MRI Technologist will need to determine if you have one or more of the following:
For a complete list of questions, click here to download the MRI Screening Form (PDF).
A word about claustrophobia:
Some patients who have undergone an MRI in conventional or older scanners may have experienced a feeling of confinement or claustrophobia. The "High Field Open MRI" scanner at Radiology Group is the most spacious MRI available and virtually eliminates claustrophobia. In most cases, exams can be completed with the patient's head outside of the scanner. Due to the extremely spacious design, previously claustrophobic patients are able to comfortably complete their exam without sedation. For further information call (563) 359-3931 and ask to speak with an MRI Technologist.
What Will the Exam Be Like?
You will lie on your stomach on a padded table with both breasts hanging freely into a cushioned recess that contains a breast coil. The breast coil helps the MRI scanner to highlight any cancerous tumors or growths that may be present. The padded table will slowly move into the center of the MRI scanner. Both ends of the scanner are wide open with ample area between you and the top and sides of the scanner. For the best quality MRI, you must lie still during scanning.
An MRI scan is a noisy process. During scanning you will hear tapping noises at intervals. These sounds are normal and are necessary in order to create the pictures or "images" while the scanner is operating. For your comfort, you will be issued earplugs or headphones to minimize the noise.
You will be alone in the room during the scan, however, the MRI Technologist can see, hear and speak with you at all times. You will be given a handheld communication device that permits you to alert your Technologist at the push of a button.
What is IV (Intravenous) Contrast?
IV contrast is a solution that is injected into your veins and appears very bright white on an MRI image. IV contrast is filtered from your blood by your kidneys and will be passed, unnoticed, from your body in your urine. You may safely drive home after having IV contrast.
How Long Will the Exam Take?
An MRI scan of the breast takes approximately 45 minutes from the time you enter the MRI suite until you leave. The actual scan time is less than 20 minutes. When the exam is completed you may be asked to wait until the Radiologist determines if more images are required.
Who interprets the results and how do I get them?
A Radiologist (a medical doctor specializing in diagnosing disease and injury using medical imaging technology) analyzes and interprets your exam within 24 hours. He/she dictates a Report of the findings and sends it to your physician. Your physician's office will inform you of your results. Due to the number of patients your physician serves, it may be 7 to 10 days before he/she is prepared to respond to your Report. To reduce waiting time, please bring copies of previous scans if your exam is for the same area being imaged.
Will my insurance cover the exam?
It is not possible for our office to determine individual coverage. Coverage for imaging tests is variable and depends on your insurance carrier, your plan, any exclusions, and sometimes the reasons for the examination. Prior to undergoing any imaging test, please call the number on the back of your insurance card to determine if it will be covered.
Who do I call if I have questions?
Contact us at (563) 359-3931
MRI patient brochure (PDF)
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