Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has capabilities that complement the X-ray imaging capabilities of screening mammograms. During the exam, the patient lies face-down in an MRI unit on a specially designed table with an opening that accommodates the breasts. This position is optimal for making breast tissue maximally visible to the scanner. Through computerized image processing, the exam generates high-resolution image “slices” of breast tissue at different depths.
Breast MRI studies may be ordered by physicians for a variety of reasons, including:
-As an adjunct screening to complement the annual mammogram, especially for women with dense breasts or who have factors in their personal or family medical history that place them at high risk of developing breast cancer
-As diagnostic follow-up study to further examine suspicious areas found in a mammogram, when the location or suspected type of tissue is more difficult to evaluate in a mammogram
-As a follow-up study for patients who have been treated for breast cancer, such as lumpectomy or chemotherapy