Breast MRI is an effective supplement to screening mammography for women at high risk for breast cancer.

What is Breast MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses magnets to produce images of internal organs. There is no radiation involved. Breast MRI is an imaging procedure that can provide more detailed information on breast tissue that may not be seen by mammography. Breast MRI is only used as a supplement to, and never a replacement for, mammography.

Why is Breast MRI Performed?

Breast MRI produces images of breast tissue by detecting movements of atoms within the body, which can reveal valuable information about a breast abnormality or disease. While breast MRI can be a useful supplement to mammography, it cannot detect certain abnormalities revealed by mammography, such as calcium deposits.

Breast MRI may be recommended, in addition to screening mammography, for some women at high risk for developing breast cancer. Breast MRI is also used for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, to measure the cancer’s size and track changes during treatment.

American Cancer Society guidelines recommend routine breast MRI in addition to screening mammography for women who:

Breast MRI | Breast MRI exam | Orange County | Murrieta

Courtesy of GE Healthcare.

  • Have completed a breast cancer risk assessment and have a 20 percent or greater lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Have an identified BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.
  • Have immediate family members, such as a mother or sister, who have identified BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.
  • Have a significant family history of breast or ovarian cancer on either side of their family.
  • Have undergone radiation therapy to the chest between the ages of 10 and 30.
  • Suffer from or have immediate family members that suffer from certain medical conditions, such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome.

What to Expect from Breast MRI


There are several steps women can take to prepare for a breast MRI.

  • Wearing comfortable, easy-to-remove clothing is recommended because breast MRI requires women to change into a gown.
  • Jewelry and other metal accessories, such as piercings or hairpins, should be removed prior to the exam because they can interfere with the imaging process.
  • Women who are pregnant, who suffer from kidney disease, who have recently undergone surgery, who have medical device implants or who suffer from other medical conditions should be sure to inform their physicians.


A woman undergoing breast MRI is positioned face down on an examination table that slides in and out of an MRI machine, which is shaped like a large cylindrical tube. The woman will be required to receive an intravenous injection of contrast dye, which helps define the internal structure of breasts on MRI images.

A breast MRI will not cause pain, but the woman undergoing breast MRI must remain still for the duration of the imaging process. Remaining still for the duration of the imaging process can be difficult. Women should inform their physicians if they suspect it will be difficult to remain still for an extended period of time in a small space. The imaging process lasts 30 to 45 minutes and the entire examination takes approximately 60 minutes.

Breast MRI image | Orange County | BreastlinkResults

The results of breast MRI are interpreted by a radiologist. Depending on the reason(s) for a breast MRI, the radiologist may be looking for signs of cancer or attempting to learn more about an existing abnormality. If a woman requires additional imaging procedures, or a breast MRI detects an abnormality, Breastlink radiologists will inform her and/or her primary care physician.

Schedule Your Breast MRI with Breastlink

Breastlink’s team of expert breast radiologists and technologists help women choose which breast cancer screening and diagnostic imaging procedures are appropriate for them. To determine whether breast MRI is right for you, contact us online and we will get back to you within one business day.

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