MRI Center Navicent Health

Illustration of a woman getting a breast MRI

What is MRI?

MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging, is an imaging technique that uses magnetic fields and radio-waves to make computer images of internal body organs. No radiation or X-rays are used.

What is Breast MRI?

Breast MRI uses MRI technology to look specifically at the breast to produce three-dimensional images. It is a non-invasive procedure that doctors can use to determine what the inside of the breast looks like without having to do surgery or flatten the breast, as in a mammogram. Each exam produces hundreds of images of the breast, cross-sectional in all three directions, which are then read by the radiologist. Such non-invasive studies help to identify the location and size of any tumors, if present, which in turn helps your physician in the selection of the best treatment option.

Does Breast MRI Replace the Mammogram?

Absolutely not. Breast MRI is an evolving technology and should not replace standard screening and diagnostic procedures such as clinical and self exams, mammograms, fine needle aspirations or biopsies. Breast MRI is most useful as a diagnostic rather than a screening tool.

How is Breast MRI Different from Mammogram?

Mammograms use X-rays to generate images of the breast tissue to search for cancer. MRI, on the other hand, uses no X-rays. Also, breast MRI provides a three-dimensional image, as opposed to the mammogram's two-dimensional picture. The ability to identify a mass in the breast requires that the mass has a different appearance (or contrast) from normal tissue. With MRI, this contrast is 10 to 100 times greater than that obtained with mammography. This is why MRI is used more often than CT scans, which also uses X-rays, for detecting various types of tumors. Also, breast MRI does not detect certain types of very small calcifications, which on a mammogram can be an early indication of cancer. Instead, breast MRI uses different cancer markers, including the blood flow of the tumor, as well as the size and appearance of the tumor.

Who Should Have a Breast MRI? Should I Have One?

Breast MRI is not appropriate for everyone, so risks and benefits must be assessed individually. The best candidates for Breast MRI are women who:

  • Have had a suspicious lump or mammogram
  • Already have had a diagnosis of cancer and will have surgery or chemotherapy followed by surgery
  • Are at high risk for breast cancer due to a previous cancer diagnosis, strong family history for breast cancer, or a positive test result for one of the breast cancer genes

How is Breast MRI Performed?

Breast MRI requires the intravenous injection of a contrast agent, which helps to highlight blood flow within the breast and distinguish benign (non-cancerous) from malignant (cancerous) abnormalities. Breast MRI provides a more comfortable experience for the patient, as the breasts are free-hanging during the exam rather than compressed as with a mammogram.

What are the Benefits of Breast MRI?

  • MRI is a non-invasive technique that does not involve exposure to radiation
  • MRI has proven valuable in diagnosing a broad range of conditions, including detecting and staging breast cancer
  • MRI enables the detection of abnormalities that might be obscured by bone with other imaging methods
  • The contrast material used in MRI exams is less likely to produce an allergic reaction than the iodine-based materials used for conventional X-rays and CT scanning
  • MRI has been shown to detect small breast lesions that are sometimes missed by mammography
  • MRI can successfully image the dense breast common in younger women, as well as breast implants, both of which are difficult to image using traditional mammography
  • MRI can provide guidance for biopsy (when needed)

What are the Standard Precautions for MRI?

Because the MRI magnet attracts certain metals, it can exert a strong force on some metallic objects brought within the scan room, which may be harmful for the patient. In order to prevent such an event, patients are required to fill out and sign a metal screening questionnaire before going into the MRI room. Persons with cardiac pacemakers, brain aneurysm clips or metallic particles in their eyes will not qualify for MRI. However, most surgical staples, clips and prostheses will not be affected by the magnet, nor will normal dental work or fillings. In addition, all metals (jewelry, pens, watches, pagers, etc.) are removed before entering the room.

ADDRESS: 770 Pine Street | Suite L-15 | Macon, GA 31201 | PHONE: 478-746-1020