Breast MRI Scan

breast mri scan

What is a Breast MRI Scan?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses magnetic energy and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the human body. It does this by 'slicing' through the area being scanned, one small section at a time, to gradually build a 3-D picture, just as slices of bread make a complete loaf when put together. Doctors use MRI to help diagnose medical conditions and disorders. It does not involve radiation and nothing has to be inserted into your body.

MRI Scans are generally used for scanning breasts in the following circumstances, but you must obtain a referral from your clinician prior to booking your Breast MRI scan.

  • Screening of women who are genetically proven to be at high risk of breast cancer
  • Use in ascertaining the extent of previously discovered cancers and abnormalities
  • Additional evaluation of clinical findings e.g. from mammograms and ultrasound
  • Monitoring breast cancer treatment
  • Checking for whether silicone implants have burst

Important Safety Information

An MRI Scan is considered to be a very safe procedure with no known side effects. However, because magnetic energy is used in the procedure the scanner does attract metal objects, particularly those containing iron. For this reason you should contact the MRI unit before your appointment if you have any metallic implants or devices such as:

  • Artificial heart valves
  • Artificial limbs
  • Pins and plates in your joints
  • Dental work
  • Implanted electronic devices such as a pacemaker
  • You should also contact the MRI unit if you have ever had any metal fragments in your eyes.

If you are pregnant, or think you may be pregnant, you should consult your doctor about whether to postpone the scan or have a different procedure.

Before your appointment

Some of our MRI centres require patients to confirm their appointment by telephone, 48 hours before. Please check your appointment letter to see if you need to do this prior to your appointment.

If there is a safety questionnaire enclosed with your appointment letter, please complete it before attending your appointment. If you answer yes to any questions from numbers 1 to 6 please contact the MRI Centre.

Watches and credit cards can be affected by the scanner so you should not take them into the scanning room. You may prefer to leave these items at home.

Please avoid wearing make-up if you are having a head or neck scan, as some brands contain particles that can affect the quality of the scan.

Please try to wear light clothing with no metal fastenings, such as a tracksuit, so you don't need to get changed.

If you need help because you speak a different language, or you want a friend, relative or carer to come with you, please contact us when you receive your appointment.

When you arrive

When you arrive the radiographer on site will explain the scanning procedure to you. If you have any questions, please ask the radiographer. For some scans, we may ask you to change into an examination gown, particularly if your clothing contains any metal fasteners.

The examination

During the MRI scan we will ask you to lie very still on the MRI table. The table has a two-way intercom which you can use to communicate with the MRI staff during your scan.

A piece of equipment will be placed around the part of your body being scanned. This equipment picks up the MRI signal from which the images are produced.

As the scan begins, you will hear a drumming noise and a few clicks as the machine is set up. The noise continues throughout the scan but you will be given ear protection to minimise it.

For some scans, we will give you an injection to improve the quality of the scan. If this is required for your examination the radiographer will explain and answer any of your questions.

How long does an MRI Scan take?

This depends on the part of the body being scanned. It is possible the MRI scan will take up to an hour but many scans only take about 20 minutes.

When will I get the MRI Scan results?

Our radiographers are qualified MRI professionals who specialise in obtaining high quality images, however they are not trained to diagnose problems from the scans. Please don't ask the radiographer to comment on your images as they are not allowed to do so.

The medical professional who referred you will receive the MRI report. You should contact your referrer to receive your results unless he or she has made different arrangements with you. We will contact you if we need to carry out further investigations.

If you would like to view and download our MRI Patient Information leaflet please click here

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