MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is able to produce a detailed cross-sectional image of the inside of the body. It does this using a combination of a magnetic field and radio waves. There is no radiation involved.
It is most often used:
- to gather more information about an area of suspicion. A breast MRI can help to accurately identify the size and number of breast lesions or abnormal areas
- for women with a strong family history of breast cancer
- to monitor for recurrence after treatment for breast cancer.
When you have an MRI you will be asked to lie on your stomach on a special examination table with cushioned openings for your breasts to sit in. These cushioned openings contain a special coil which helps relay signals for the MRI.
The examination table is then slowly moved into the MRI machine – a long tube like structure. The MRI machine makes a loud beeping noise during the procedure, which usually takes up to 45 minutes. Some people may feel claustrophobic during an MRI. If this is the case for you, you may be given a mild sedative.
Because an MRI uses magnetic fields, it’s very important you remove anything metal on your body – jewellery, watches, belts etc or tell your doctor if you have any metal parts in your body. You should also tell your doctor if you are pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant.