Medical Imaging Northwest | Breast MRI

Breast MRI

What is Breast MRI?

Breast MRI is a sophisticated technology that uses a computer, magnetic field and radio-waves instead of x-rays to produce images of the soft tissues in the body. This noninvasive procedure helps Diagnostic Imaging Northwest's board-certified mammography-trained physicians to better evaluate the breast in special circumstances. When used in conjunction with screening and diagnostic mammography, it can provide valuable information for the detection and characterization of breast disease. Breast MRI does not replace mammography, it is a different imaging technique that provides additional information.

Who needs Breast MRI?

Breast MRI is now proven to be more sensitive than any other modality in detecting invasive breast cancer. MRI is superior at demonstrating the size and extent of a breast tumor prior to surgery. In addition, it is beneficial for screening patients at particularly high risk for breast cancer due to genetic predisposition or strong family history, diagnosing breast implant rupture, staging breast cancer, and planning treatment. MRI also plays an important role in post-surgical and post-radiation follow-up.

What should I expect?

Avoid eating a large meal prior to the exam. Prepare to arrive 15 minutes before your appointment time. The entire appointment will take 90 minutes. This exam should be scheduled 7-10 days after the start of your menstrual cycle. Correct timing is important to minimize false positive findings that can occur due to hormonal influence on the breast tissue. If you suffer from minor claustrophobia or anxiety, you may want to ask your physician for a mild sedative. Do not take the sedative until you have signed your paperwork.

A Breast MRI does not require your breasts to be compressed, so you should not experience discomfort. When you arrive you will be asked to complete paperwork regarding your history and symptoms. We will escort you into a private dressing room where you can change into a gown and remove all jewelry, since these items contain metal, which disturbs MRI signals. A technologist will position you for the scan. During the exam, you will lie on your stomach with your arms up over your head and you will enter the machine head-first.

Most patients receive an injection of contrast material called gadolinium during the exam through an intravenous injection. A small intravenous catheter will be placed in your hand or arm. The injection of contrast material is necessary if the MRI is being performed for the diagnosis of breast cancer. It is sometimes not necessary if the sole intent of the study is to evaluate silicone breast implants. Adverse reactions to gadolinium are rare. You will be asked to lie very still, relax and breathe normally. The MRI scan will only take 60 minutes. There are typically no side effects during or after MRI, so you can resume normal activities as soon as your exam is over.

It is very important that any prior breast films (mammograms, ultrasound or MRI) be made available to the radiologist for comparison during the interpretation of your MRI scan. If you have had these at a facility other than Diagnostic Imaging Northwest, please bring them with you on the day of your appointment. After the MRI is read, those films will be returned to the facility where they originated.

When will I receive results?

You should receive results from your doctor within 3-4 days.

Which location offers Breast MRI?

Puyallup Imaging Center offers Breast MRI at this time.

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