Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the breast is an excellent test for evaluating mammogram abnormalities and identifying early breast cancer, especially in high-risk women. This painless, radiation-free procedure uses magnets and a computer to create detailed images of the breast which, just like a digital mammogram, can be studied from different angles.
What is breast MRI and can it replace my mammography screening?
MRI images the breast in a completely different way than mammography. It does not use x-rays, but magnetism and radio frequency waves to generate detailed images of the breast. A breast MRI is useful as a problem-solving imaging tool and for supplemental screening of patients at high risk for breast cancer, but not as a replacement for screening mammography. MRI is very sensitive for the detection of breast cancer masses, but it also identifies findings that look like cancer, but are not. This may lead to unnecessary additional breast imaging and biopsies. Breast MRI is a more time consuming and costly breast imaging method than mammography. Breast MRI is not sensitive for detecting breast cancers that present as microcalcifications that are only seen well by mammography.