Breast magnetic resonance imaging

Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging procedure that uses MRI technology to produce detailed images of the structures within the breast as a supplemental tool to breast screening with ultrasound and mammography.

It is frequently used in women diagnosed with breast cancer to measure the size of the tumor and to look for other tumors in the same or opposite breast. It can also be used as a screening imaging method for women at high risk for breast cancer (along with a yearly mammogram), which is defined as a lifetime risk of 20 percent or greater, a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, hereditary breast cancer gene mutation (BRCA1 or BRCA2) or if received radiation therapy to the chest area before age 30. 

Breast MRI is also performed when a woman has very dense breast tissue, or when a leak or rupture of a breast implant is suspected (breast MRI is the best method for breast implant evaluation). Dense fibroglandular breast tissue appears white on X-ray mammography, as does cancer, so dense tissue can mask smaller cancers. MRI allows much better differentiation between normal breast tissue and cancerous tissue.

Since MRI technology does not use ionized radiation, a breast MRI is considered a safe procedure. However, there is a risk of false-positive results, which result in unneeded anxiety and additional testing (including biopsy) to assess a suspicious area.

Watch the VIDEO: Advances and Trends in Breast Imaging to learn more about the various breast imaging technologies available and how the issue of breast density plays a key role.

Learn more about MRI machines


Related Breast MRI Articles:

Screening MRI Benefits Women at Average Risk of Breast Cancer

New Technology and Clinical Data in Breast Imaging

New Rapid Breast MRI Screening Method Improves Cancer Detection in Dense Breast Tissue

MRI Plus Mammography Improves Detection of New Breast Cancer After Surgery

From Aviation to Breast Imaging - Development of an Abbreviated Breast MRI Protocol

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