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Abbreviated Breast MRI

Abbreviated breast MRI, or fast breast MRI, is an additional breast screening tool to help detect invasive breast cancers. This exam is more sensitive for breast cancer and may detect cancers that are not visible on a screening mammogram*.

*This exam supplements screening mammography and should not replace an annual mammogram.

Abbreviated breast MRI is a supplemental screening for women:

  • who have had normal screening mammogram within the last year
  • with dense breasts
  • with no significant family history of breast cancer (average risk)
  • who do not qualify for a diagnostic breast MRI

What You Need To Know

Metal is not allowed in the MRI room because the magnetic field in the scanner attracts metal. Even some fabrics contain small amounts of metal, which can cause burns. That’s why we ask all of our patients to change into scrubs for MRI exams. You will be given a locker to store your clothes, and anything else you may have with you during your exam. You will be asked to remove any metal objects—even small ones—including jewelry, watches or hair clips.

The technologist will review the MRI safety checklist with you. This is to make sure you don’t have any metal in your body that could cause problems during the test. These could include:

  • Hearing aids
  • Body piercings
  • Metal implants (such as valves, clips, stents, joints or limbs)
  • Metal fragments (such as bullets, shrapnel or filings)
  • Skin patches that contain metal
  • Insulin pumps
  • Implanted devices (such as pacemakers, neurostimulators, cochlear implants, drug pumps, cardioverter-defibrillator)
  • Pins or screws

For our full MRI safety checklist, click here.

What To Expect

  • We’ll give you a call before your appointment to talk through preparation instructions.
  • Please provide the name, address and phone number of any facility where you have had a prior mammogram. If you have images from previous exams, please bring them to your appointment. Our radiologist may need these prior images for comparison in order to make an accurate diagnosis.
  • Be sure to tell us if you are pregnant, nursing, or if there is a chance you may be pregnant.
  • On the day of your exam, please arrive 15 minutes early for check-in.
  • When you arrive, you will be led to a changing room and given a pair of scrubs to wear for your exam. You will be given a locker to store your clothes, and anything else you may have with you during your exam.
  • The technologist will help position you on a cushioned table. An imaging device called a “coil” will be placed around the area of the body to be scanned. The coil acts like an antenna to help capture high-quality images of your body.
  • Once you are comfortably positioned, the technologist will leave the room to run the scanner from a computer located directly next to the scanner suite, visible through the viewing window. The technologist will communicate with you throughout the exam and check to see how you are doing.
  • When the scan starts, the table you’re on will move into the scanner so the technologist can capture images. It’s important to lie as still as possible during this part of the exam to help us capture clear images. You will hear “knocking” or “buzzing” sounds for a few minutes at a time.
  • When your scan is complete, you’ll be escorted back to the changing room so you can change out of the scrubs and back into your clothing.
  • Once you have changed, your appointment is complete. You do not need to check out with the front desk when you leave.
  • After the exam, your images will be sent electronically to a radiologist. This radiologist will review the information and send a report to your doctor, typically within one to two business days.
  • You should follow up with your doctor to discuss your results.

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