breast MRI

Screening Breast MRI Criteria: 

High-Risk Patients (per American Cancer Society (ACS) criteria)

  • Breast cancer gene carrier
  • First-degree relative with breast cancer gene
  • Prior radiation to the chest between the ages of 10 and 30
  • Lifetime risk of breast cancer 20% or greater using a model such as National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Gail model
  • Implants (for cancer detection and rupture)
  • Dense breasts identified on mammography are not yet recommended for MRI screening per ACS, but may benefit if other tests are uncertain or questionable.

Diagnostic Breast MRI criteria
Pre-op Screening for Patient with New Positive Breast Biopsy per the American College of Radiology Network (ACRIN) recommendations N.E.J.M. 3/28/07)

  • Close or Positive Surgical Margins
  • Lobular Carcinoma
  • Lobular Carcinoma In Situ, Atypical Lobular Hyperplasia, Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia
  • Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy
  • Postoperative Scar vs. Tumor Recurrence
  • Axillary Node Cancer, with negative mammogram
  • Suspected Inflammatory Breast Cancer


Can breast MRI replace mammography?
No, only mammography can show microcalcifications, the most important sign of ductal carcinoma in situ (early cancer). Having a breast MRI does not replace your annual mammogram. It is very important to continue to have a yearly mammogram, as well as any breast imaging recommended by your physician.

Is breast MRI appropriate for general screening?

What to expect when having a Breast MRI
The MRI machine is loud and you may hear banging, buzzing and beeping noises throughout the exam. The technologist will explain the various noises. We will provide earplugs or headphones with music for you during your exam. The breast MRI usually takes between 25-45 minutes. If you have breast implants, the exam may take a little longer because the technologist may need to obtain additional images.

The most important part of the breast MRI is keeping very still so that the technologist is able to acquire the best possible images. You will be able to communicate with the technologist during your exam through the intercom.

If you feel you need sedation, you will need to speak to the nurse at the facility where you are having the breast MRI prior to your exam. Sedation needs to be ordered by your physician. If you have any questions about sedation, please call the contact person at the facility.

For the exam, an IV will be started in your arm so that MRI contrast agent can be given to you during the test. The contrast agent is an extremely important part of the breast MRI exam and must be done in order for the radiologist to provide an accurate, thorough reading of your exam and to screen for abnormal tissue. The technologist and/or nurse will assist in positioning you on the MRI table for the test. You will be lying on your stomach with your breasts suspended into two holes formed especially for them. The technologist will make you as comfortable as possible. Your breast MRI will be reviewed by one of our specialized breast MRI radiologists and a report will be issued to your physician.

What to bring with you when having a breast MRI.
The radiologist reading your MRI will need to compare the images with your prior mammograms. If your prior mammograms were not done at a Bon Secours facility, you will need to bring copies of the mammogram images (CD or film) and reports with you. If you are unable to do so, we can get your prior images after your appointment, but it will delay the results of your breast MRI exam. Please bring a list of your current medications when you come for your breast MRI.

Please wear comfortable clothes with no zippers and try not to wear jewelry or metal hair pins when you come for your exam. Competent staff will assist you with a breast MRI screening form. A brief visual exam of your breasts for any scars, surgical wounds, moles, etc., is also necessary. The radiologist will need to be aware of these when interpreting your breast MRI.

Points of Contact

  • Bon Secours MRI Center at St. Mary's Hospital: 804-287-7394
  • Bon Secours Memorial Regional Medical Center: 804-764-7691
  • Bon Secours Reynolds Crossing Imaging Center: 804-287-3509
  • Bon Secours St. Francis Medical Center: 804-594-3170
  • Bon Secours Watkins Women’s Imaging Center: 804-893-8484

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Central Scheduling 

Saturday, 8:00am –12:00pm

In most cases, the referring physician will schedule your exam.

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