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What is a Breast MRI?

MRI is a non-invasive form of medical imaging that uses a powerful magnetic field, pulses of radio wave energy and a computer to produce very detailed pictures of the breast.

A breast MRI is often requested by healthcare practitioners:

  • As an additional screening tool for women at high risk of developing breast cancer.
  • To take a closer look at breast tissue when mammography and ultrasound are inconclusive.
  • To determine the extent and staging of breast cancer to help with diagnosis and treatment.
  • To assess the effectiveness of breast cancer treatment.
  • To evaluate nipple discharge.
  • To check for a suspected leak or rupture of a silicone gel breast implant.

There is no ionizing radiation with an MRI exam.

How is a breast MRI performed?

MIC performs breast MRIs on our most advanced scanner, the Siemens Vida 3T, which produces exceptional, high quality images.

During your exam, you will lie face down on a padded table with openings to accommodate your breasts so they can be imaged without being compressed.

You will be given intravenous contrast dye if your MRI is scheduled to look for signs of breast cancer, determine the staging of breast cancer or assess the effectiveness of cancer treatments.

You will not need to have intravenous contrast if your MRI is only to evaluate your breast implants.

You should discuss the type of breast MRI exam you need with your referring healthcare practitioner.

Is there a cost?

Yes. Breast MRI in community-based clinics is not insured by Alberta Health Care. When you call to book your appointment, we will go over the cost with you.

For more patient info on breast MRI

What to expect

  • When you call to book your appointment, a member of our Central Booking team will go over any special instructions with you.
  • You will need to remove clothing from the waist up and wear a gown. Please leave any jewelry at home and remove all metal.
  • If you have trouble in confined spaces, or know you are claustrophobic, you should discuss this with your healthcare practitioner before your MRI. You may be given a mild sedative.
  • You may need to have an intravenous injection of contrast dye if your MRI is to examine your breast tissue.
  • Your MIC technologist will help get you settled on the padded scanning table. You will lie face down and your breasts will be placed into the openings which contain coils designed to detect the magnetic signals from the MRI. The entire table will slide into the opening of the scanner.
  • During your exam, the machine will make loud tapping and thumping sounds during the imaging sequences. We will give you noise cancelling headphones to help block out the sounds.
  • The technologist will monitor you from another room. You can speak to the technologist through a microphone.
  • Your exam will usually take 30 – 60 minutes.
  • One of our radiologists will review the images. We do our best to provide a report to your healthcare practitioner within 24 hours.