Breast MRI is ahighly sensitive imaging modality used to detect malignancy within the breast. It does not use radiation as in mammography, but radio frequency waves and magnetism. Two- and three-dimensional images are acquired and a contrast agent (gadolinium) is injected intravenously to help the radiologist to differentiate between benign and malignant tissue. Malignancies have more blood vessels than normal tissue and the gadolinium is taken up where there is increased blood flow. These areas will then enhance on the MRI images and with the help of specialised graphs the radiologist can then determine whether the enhanced area is a malignancy or not.
Breast MRI is routinely used for pre-operative staging in women with a known diagnosis of breast cancer. It is also used to evaluate for residual disease or recurrence. MRI can also be helpful for monitoring response to neo-adjuvant chemotherapy, in surveillance for “high-risk” patients, and for patients with breast implants. High-risk patients can be patients with a family history of breast cancer or patients diagnosed with having one of the BRCA genes.
Patient preparation required for Breast MRI
You will be changed into a hospital gown and all jewellery and other metal will have to be removed.
The procedure will be explained to you and safety questions will be asked.
An intravenous cannula would be put into a vein (usually your arm) so we can give the contrast towards the end of the procedure without disturbing your position.
You will be transferred onto the scan table that is wheeled inside the scanner, which looks like a round tube. You will lie prone and feet first on a special coil, which works like an antenna to make the images more clear.
A set of films or a CD with the images will go back to your referrer. A radiologist will look at the scan and a report will be sent to you referrer as well as your GP. Your doctor will talk to you about the results.
There are no after-effects from the study and you can eat and drink as normal.
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