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Breast MRI: Additional Information

Where is Breast MRI performed?

Breast MRI is done at Longtown Imaging, which is located inside NMMC's Longtown Medical Park, 4381 S. Eason Blvd., Tupelo. Results are interpreted by radiologists at the Breast Care Center.

Do I still need a mammogram?

Yes. A breast MRI does not take the place of your annual mammogram. Even if you have a normal breast MRI, you should still continue to have an annual mammogram.

What can I expect?

NMMC uses a system that images both breasts at the same time, and the exam typically takes 30 to 45 minutes. After changing into a comfortable gown, a small IV will be inserted into your arm. You will lie face down on a table, where the breasts are positioned into cup-like indentations on the table. The table is then moved into the MRI machine.

You will need to lie very still as images are taken. About halfway through the exam, you will receive a painless injection and then more images are taken.

If you are claustrophobic or anxious about your MRI exam, check with your physician about medication that can make you very comfortable during the exam. However, you will need someone to drive you home.

A breast MRI is not painful; however, you will be lying down on your stomach throughout the exam. Your forehead will be supported, so breathing comfortably will not be an issue. When positioned, the lower half of your body is usually outside the magnet. A pillow will be placed under your lower legs for comfort.

After the exam, the IV will be removed and you will be free to dress and leave. Most often, exam results will be sent to your doctor by the end of the day, or the following morning. Because of the enormous amount of image data, and the need for special computers to analyze it, there are no "stat" or immediate results available.

How is breast MRI different from a mammogram?

  • Mammograms are used for screening, while breast MRI is used to examine specific breast problems.
  • Radiation is used in a mammogram, but not in a breast MRI.
  • A mammogram does not require an injection, but a breast MRI does.
  • A mammogram requires breast compression, but a breast MRI does not.
  • Mammography services are widely available, while breast MRI is not.
  • Breast MRI is expensive compared to other breast imaging methods.
  • Mammograms are usually covered by insurance, while breast MRI is covered only for specific breast problems.

Breast MRI cannot be done on patients who have:

  • a pacemaker
  • residual pacemaker leads
  • a TENS unit or residual wires
  • a defibrillator (AICD)
  • any internal pump device
  • an inner ear implant
  • a brain aneurysm clip
  • any metal in your eyes

Special Considerations for Breast MRI

  • Pre-menopause—Female hormones such as estrogen affect the results of the MRI. The most accurate time to image the breasts in a menstruating female is between days seven and 14 of the cycle. Imaging during another part of the cycle is significantly less accurate.
  • Postmenopause—Patients on hormone replacement therapy are scheduled on a case-by-case basis. It may be necessary to discontinue use for a period of time before the breast MRI can be done.
  • Chemotherapy—Insurance covers breast MRI before and after completion of therapy only.
  • Pregnancy—If you could be pregnant, please notify our staff.
  • Radiation Therapy—Must wait for six months after completion date.
  • Lumpectomy—Can be imaged immediately after the procedure, before additional therapy.
  • Breast Biopsy—Okay for MRI.
  • Mammograms—If your most recent mammogram was done at an NMMC facility, we will have a copy. Otherwise, please bring a copy of your most recent mammogram and report to your appointment. The breast MRI will not be performed if these films are not available for the radiologist, as they are crucial in the interpretation of your scan.

Questions?

If you have additional questions concerning breast MRI, call the breast health specialist at the NMMC Breast Care Center at (662) 377-4910.


For more information
or to schedule an appointment for a mammogram,
call the NMMC Breast Care Center at (662) 377-4158 or
1-800-THE DESK (1-800-843-3375).