Breast MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a safe, non- invasive test that uses the combination of a magnetic field and radio wave energy to provide high-quality, detailed pictures. Breast MRI’s give a detailed evaluation of the breasts.
For questions or to schedule your Breast MRI, please call Breast Diagnostic Center at 253-735-1991.

Breast MRI Scans are recommended to:

  • Screen certain high-risk patients, such as women with a BRCA 1 or BRCA2 gene mutation or strong family history of breast cancer.
  • Further evaluate an inconclusive mammogram, ultrasound or physical exam.
  • Determine the extent of a known breast cancer in order to assist with treatment options.
  • Monitor response to breast cancer chemotherapy.
  • Evaluate lumpectomy sites in the years following breast cancer treatment.
  • Determine implant rupture or leakage.

MRI of the breast is not a replacement for mammography or ultrasound imaging but rather a supplemental tool that has many important uses.

Are there any special preparations for the exam?

You will be provided with specific preparation instructions when scheduling your appointment.

Premenopausal women should have the exam 7 to 14 days after the start of their menstrual cycle. Women on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) should be off the HRT for at least one month (preferably two) prior to having a breast MRI.  Please consult your medical provider before discontinuing any medication.

Most Breast MRI’s require an intravenous contrast injection, which the technologist will discuss with you when you arrive for your appointment. A specially trained technologist will place an IV in your arm or hand prior to your scan. If you are 60 years or older, have diabetes, or a history of kidney disease, we will administer a creatinine test to determine if contrast is safe for you, saving you time with one-stop imaging care.

As with all MRI exams, you will be asked to remove any metal from your body, including jewelry, watches, glasses, coins, credit cards or other metallic items prior to the exam. Regular dental work or fillings are fine.

Do not apply antiperspirant or deodorant prior to the exam as it may result in image artifact.

We will provide a gown for you to wear during the exam.

If you have claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces) or anxiety, you may want to ask your physician for a prescription for a mild sedative prior to the scheduled examination.

What happens during an exam?

A technologist will walk you through the exam process. A technologist is a highly skilled medical professional trained to perform imaging exams. During the exam, you will lay on your stomach with both breasts naturally positioned in a cushioned recess containing the MRI scanner’s signal receiver (also known as a breast coil). Your head will lie on a cushioned head rest and your arms will be positioned above your head.

It is important to remain very still throughout the exam. This is best accomplished by making sure you are comfortable and can relax rather than trying to actively hold still tensing your muscles. Be sure to let the technologist know if something is uncomfortable, since discomfort increases the chance that you will feel the need to move during the exam.

A contrast (gadolinium) will be injected through the IV during the scan. Gadolinium is an FDA-approved, non-radioactive contrast agent that helps the radiologist better view potential lesions/tumors. Gadolinium is rapidly cleared from the body by the kidneys after the exam. A series of scans will be taken before the contrast is injected and during or following the injection.

MRI of the breast without contrast material is inadequate for identifying breast cancers.

If you’ve never experienced an MRI, you may want to visit this website to hear what it sounds like before your visit. We offer a variety of patient comfort tools, including headphones, music selection, and a two-way communication system to speak with the technologist anytime during the exam. The total examination will last 30-60 minutes.

Will it hurt?

Aside from the small needle stick upon insertion of the IV needle, most women find Breast MRI exams to be comfortable, as there is no compression of the breasts. You may feel a little stiff afterward from laying on your stomach during the exam.

What happens after the Breast MRI Scan?

The images taken by the scanner are interpreted by our breast radiologists, who are specialized in reviewing Breast MR Exams. Our radiologist will then send your medical provider a detailed diagnostic report. Your medical provider will contact you directly with the results and next steps, which may include additional imaging, such as digital mammography or ultrasound.

Where do I go for the Breast MRI?

BDC is working in partnership with Center for Diagnostic Imagining (CDI) to provide the Breast MRI Scans. The CDI offices are located in Federal Way and Lakewood.

Will insurance pay for Breast MRI?

Each insurance provider’s coverage is different. We recommend contacting your insurance company to ask about their Breast MRI coverage.  A referral and pre-authorization are required for most insurance companies.

Please call us if you have further questions regarding your MRI.

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