MRI for breast diagnostics

MRIAs part of our commitment to providing the best possible breast care to the women of our community, we are proud to offer magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology for breast imaging and for biopsy. The Community Imaging Center at Ryan Ranch was the first facility in Monterey County to offer these services.

MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses, and a computer to produce detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, bone, and virtually all other internal body structures. It has increasingly become a valuable diagnostic tool for women at high risk of breast cancer, or who have already been diagnosed. In many cases where lesions are found through mammogram or ultrasound, MRI can give an even clearer picture of the extent of the disease.

Learn more about MRI guided breast biopsy.

Bilateral breast imaging simplified

According to Dr. Susan Roux, breast radiologist and medical director of Community Hospital's Breast Care Center, "Six percent of the time, a cancer is found in the other breast - and can be seen only by MRI - at the same time the first breast cancer was diagnosed."

Clearly, it is important to have both breasts examined during an MRI, even if a lesion is only found in one breast during your mammogram. In 2008, Community Hospital added the technology to allow both breasts to be imaged in one exam, making it more convenient for you to schedule, and enabling you to get results as soon as possible.

What to expect

Contrast material is often used during an MRI to enhance the images that are produced, but not always. If your exam requires contrast material, the technologist will insert an intravenous line into your arm or hand so the contrast material can be injected at the right time.

You will be lying face down on a specially contoured exam table during the procedure. Your breasts will hang freely through an opening in the table, then they will be gently compressed between two plates.

When the exam begins, the table will automatically move into the MRI unit. You will hear thumping and humming sounds coming from the machine as it records images. You will need to remain very still during the exam while the images are being recorded, and you may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds at a time at various intervals. If you become uncomfortable at any time during the exam, let the technologist know.

You will be able to relax between imaging sequences, although you will need to maintain your same position as much as possible. Typically, an MRI requires several imaging sequences. The entire imaging session will take about 30 to 40 minutes. When it is complete, the exam table will automatically move out of the magnet of the MRI machine and the technologist will remove your IV and assist you in getting up from the table.

Generally, no anesthesia is needed for an MRI, but if you have trouble staying in one position for a prolonged period of time or suffer from claustrophobia, a sedative may be administered. Please discuss this with your doctor before scheduling your exam. No recovery time is needed after the exam, and you will be able to drive yourself home, assuming you were not sedated.

Learn more about MRI.