IMAGING: MRI

Breast Biopsy

How it works: The MRI scan uses a powerful magnet, radio frequency waves and a computer that processes the images to acquire extremely accurate images of organs, soft tissue, bone and internal body structures. The MRI is one of the safest and most comfortable diagnostic imaging studies available. We have two types of equipment: one with a 1.5T wide-bore magnet and another with a 3T wide-bore magnet. Our team of radiologists, technologists and schedulers are always available to help identify the most appropriate magnet for your study.

Why we do it: An MRI-guided breast biopsy is used to help guide the radiologist's instruments to the suspicious area to remove cells. It is typically used when the area in question is too small to be felt.

What to expect: During an MRI-guided breast biopsy, you will lie flat on your stomach for 30 to 40 minutes with your breasts resting inside a special device called a coil, which helps the scanner capture better images. Once you are comfortable, the technologist will start an IV to administer contrast agents and medication. The contrast agent is called gadolinium and helps the radiologist see certain tissue and blood vessels. Some patients describe a metallic taste or tingling sensation after the injection. This is normal and usually subsides quickly. Once your IV is ready, the technologist will move the table into the MRI. After taking images of your breasts to determine the exact location of the area of interest, a radiologist will perform the biopsy. The biopsy begins by sterilizing your skin with antiseptic that will feel cool and wet. The radiologist will numb the area with a local anesthetic and then guide a small, thin hollow needle into the breast tissue to collect a tissue sample. Our nurse will be with you during the entire procedure.

At the end of the procedure, a small metal clip will be inserted as a landmark to help a surgeon find the biopsy location if the results are positive. You should not be able to feel the clip and it will not set off metal detectors. If your biopsy is benign, the clip will remain in the breast and does not need to be removed.

Prep & safety:

Please arrive 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time.

  • Have renal disease, a kidney transplant, diabetes, or gout.
  • Have a pacemaker or implantable defibrillator.
  • Have aneurysm clips.
  • Have other implantable devices such as a heart valve, middle ear prosthesis or implanted neurostimulator.
  • Know or suspect that you have metal fragments in or around the eye.
  • If you are taking hormone replacement therapy medication, please discuss discontinuing use of medication with your doctor prior to your MRI study.
  • Please discuss discontinuing use of any type of anti-coagulant or blood thinning agent with your doctor two to three days prior to your study.

Your results: A highly specialized radiologist will interpret your images and prepare a diagnostic report for your physician within 48 hours. If your exam was ordered “stat” your physician will be notified of the interpretation the same day. Your physician will determine how the radiologists' report can be used to develop a treatment plan and will speak with you about your results.