MRI is a supplemental tool for detecting and staging breast cancer and other breast abnormalities. MRI may be used to evaluate abnormalities detected by mammography and/or breast ultrasound. In certain situations such as in high risk patients or women with dense breast tissue, breast MRI can also be used as a screening tool. Current indications for breast MRI include:
- Determine tumor extent for example to see whether cancer detected by mammography or ultrasound has spread further in the breast or into the chest wall.
- Search for multiple tumors prior to breast conservation surgery.
- Determine breast implant integrity
- Determine how much cancer has spread beyond the surgical site after a breast biopsy or lumpectomy.
- Distinguish between scar tissue and recurrent tumors.
- Screening women at high risks for breast cancer.
A pregnancy test may be necessary prior to your MRI exam. The risks to a fetus are unknown. Therefore, pregnant women should not have an MRI exam unless the potential benefit from the MRI is determined to outweigh the potential risks. If you have minor claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces) or anxiety, you may want to request a prescription for a mild sedative from your physician. If you have an allergy of any kind such as hay fever, hives, allergic asthma, or allergy to food or drugs, please indicate that on your history form as rarely, some individuals can have an allergy to gadolinium. However, gadolinium does not contain iodine and is less likely to cause an allergic reaction as compared to the CT contrast that contains iodine. The technologist and radiologist should also know if you have any significant health problems. Some conditions, such as kidney disease and sickle cell anemia, may prevent you from having an MRI with contrast material.
Metal and electronic objects can interfere with the MRI’s magnetic field and are not allowed in the exam room. These items include:
- Jewelry, credit cards, watches, 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, pocketknives and eyeglasses.
In most cases, an MRI exam is safe for patients with metal implants, except for a few types.
Tell the technologist if you have medical or electronic devices in your body, such as artificial heart valves, implanted drug infusion ports, implanted electronic devices, artificial limbs or metallic joint prostheses, implanted nerve stimulators, metal pins, screws, plates or surgical staples.
Metal objects used in orthopedic surgery usually pose no risk during MRI. However, a recently placed artificial joint may require the use of another imaging procedure such as CT. If there is any question, an x-ray may be taken to detect the presence of any metal objects.