What you can expect

By Mayo Clinic Staff

When you arrive for your appointment, a member of your health care team will give you a gown and a robe to wear. You'll receive instructions on removing clothing and jewelry. If you have trouble being in a small, confined space, tell your doctor before your breast MRI. You may be given a mild sedative.

A contrast agent (dye) may be injected through an intravenous (IV) line in your arm to enhance the appearance of tissues or blood vessels on the MRI pictures.

The MRI machine has a large, central opening. During the breast MRI, you lie facedown on a padded scanning table. Your breasts fit into a hollow depression in the table, which contains coils that detect magnetic signals from the MRI machine. The entire table then slides into the opening of the machine.

The MRI machine creates a magnetic field around you, and radio waves are directed at your body. You won't feel the magnetic field or radio waves, but you may hear loud tapping and thumping sounds coming from inside the machine. Because of this, you may be given earplugs to wear.

During the test, the technologist monitors you from another room. You can speak to the technologist through a microphone. You'll be instructed to breathe normally but to lie as still as possible.

The breast MRI appointment may take 30 minutes to one hour.

Aug. 22, 2013