Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a powerful magnetic field,
radio frequency pulses and a computer to create detailed images of the
breast tissue and any abnormalities that may present themselves.
Breast MRI does not use ionizing radiation (used in X-rays).
Breast MRI is a non-invasive technique that is used to examine our
patients at high risk for breast cancer. Breast MRI can catch areas of
concern earlier and in ways not possible with other breast imaging
techniques, giving our experts the ability to best diagnose and treat
MRI is particularly good for detecting very small tumors and can be
used to clarify the size and extent of the lesion after a suspicious
area has been detected by mammogram or ultrasound. MRI can help
determine whether the cancer has spread further in the breast or into
the chest wall. MRI is also especially useful for detecting tumors in
women with breast implants (which can interfere with mammogram rays),
and in women with dense breast tissue. It is also particularly helpful
in women with hereditary susceptibility to breast cancer, as it can be
used in women at a younger age when such hereditary tumors often
occur, better visualizes potential lesions in younger women who
normally have denser tissue that impact mammography, and is safer in
that it does not involve radiation.
During the painless breast MRI procedure, patients lie flat on their
stomach for about 45 minutes with their breast inside a special
platform to produce MRI images of the internal structure of their
breast. Stanford performs most diagnostic breast MRIs at 3 Tesla,
providing the clearest images possible.
Stanford also has a scanner to accommodate patients with larger body
types. Our experts employ a wider 70 cm diameter scanner available by
special request, compared to the 60 cm diameter of most conventional
breast MRIs. Please make requests for this system at time of
scheduling, as it is only available at our hospital facility.