Breast MRI

ColleenBergaBreast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses a strong magnetic field to image the breast. An MRI is not a replacement for mammography or ultrasound imaging, but rather a supplemental tool for detecting and staging breast cancer and evaluating other breast abnormalities.

Breast MRI is performed at the Vail Valley Medical Center MRI department. For a breast MRI that is performed to detect cancer, an IV line is inserted, and contrast dye is injected to help visualize the breast tissue. The patient will lie on his/her stomach, and both breasts will hang into a breast coil when the patient enters the MRI machine. The technologist will leave the room, and a series of images will be taken. As the images are taken, the MRI unit will make various noises. Patients can expect the exam to last about one hour. Breast MRI is painless; however, many people experience claustrophobia. If you need to be sedated, please speak with your care provider prior to arriving at the MRI department.

Breast MRI is recommended for:

  • Evaluation of women who have abnormalities detected on mammography or ultrasound
  • Women at high lifetime risk of breast cancer. The National Cancer Institute's breast cancer risk calculator can be found online.
  • Women with dense breast tissue
  • Women with recent cancer diagnosis to determine the extent of the disease
  • Evaluation of recurrent tumors versus scar tissue
  • The assessment of the effect of chemotherapy
  • Determining the integrity of breast implants (no contrast dye is needed for this study)

Please inform the technologist prior to the exam if you have:

  • A pacemaker
  • A cochlear implant
  • A brain or aneurysm clip
  • An artificial heart valve
  • Implanted drug infusion ports
  • An implanted electronic device
  • Artificial limbs or metallic joint prostheses
  • Implanted nerve simulators
  • Any metal pins, screws, plates, stents or surgical staples
  • A chance of being pregnant