MRI Breast Biopsy

MRI Breast Biopsy Information

Lumps or abnormalities in the breast are often detected by physical examination, mammography, or other imaging studies. However, it is not always possible to tell from these imaging tests whether a growth is benign or cancerous.

A breast biopsy is performed to remove some cells from a suspicious area in the breast and examine them under a microscope to determine a diagnosis. This can be performed surgically or, more commonly, by a radiologist using a less invasive procedure that involves a hollow needle and image-guidance.

An MRI-guided breast biopsy is most helpful when a patient has a breast abnormality such as:

  • a suspicious mass not identified by other imaging techniques
  • an area of distortion
  • an area of abnormal tissue change

Our specially trained radiologists use MRI-guided breast biopsy to precisely locate and remove cells from a suspicious area in the breast for diagnosis and treatment planning.

The benefits of MRI guided breast biopsy

The benefits of MRI guided breast biopsy are:

  • The procedure is less invasive than surgical biopsy, leaves little or no scarring and can be performed in less than an hour.
  • MRI-guided breast biopsy using a core needle is considered both safe and accurate.
  • Compared with stereotactic biopsy, the MRI-guided method avoids the need for ionizing radiation
  • MRI-guided breast biopsy, using either the core needle method or the vacuum-assisted device, takes less time than surgical biopsy, causes less tissue damage, and is less costly.
  • Recovery time is brief and patients can soon resume their usual activities

You will be awake during your biopsy and should have little discomfort and most women report little or no pain and no scarring on the breast.

What is an MRI scan?

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. MRI scans use a strong magnetic field and radio-waves to create high resolution images of your anatomy and any pathology or injury present with exquisite and precise detail.

Pre-scan Procedure

Please bring your MRI request form and all previous mammographic imaging to your appointment.

On arrival for your appointment, you will be required to complete a safety questionnaire to ensure it is safe for you to have the scan. A detailed questionnaire must be completed by every patient prior to having their MRI study as some items such as pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillators, neurostimulators, aneurysm clips, metal implants, and implanted drug infusion devices, etc. may create a health hazard or create interference during the MRI examination.

Many metal implants have been tested to be safe to undergo MRI scanning, however some are very dangerous (e.g. pacemakers) and the questionnaire will help determine your safety. This is a critical part of your preparation for the MRI scan. Please be patient in answering these questions as your safety is paramount at Gold Coast Radiology.

We have a detailed database of various medically implanted devices which we refer to when checking a patient’s compatibility with MRI.

Patients who have had metallic foreign bodies in their eyes from grinding/welding or other accidents will be required to have a screening x-ray to exclude metal in your eyes prior to commencing the MRI scan.

In most cases there is no other special preparation for an MRI scan. Any special preparation required for your particular examination will be advised at the time of booking.

Due to the safety aspects involved with strong magnetic fields and the sensitive nature of the technology, you may be asked to change into a gown and remove your watch and certain jewellery.

MRI Scan Patient Preparation

There is no specific preparation for an MRI examination.  Usually you will be able to eat and drink before the examination unless you are specifically instructed not to when making your appointment, or by your referring physician.  You can continue to take your prescribed medications unless otherwise directed.

During the MRI examination you will not be able to wear anything metallic, so it is best to leave watches, jewellery, or anything else metallic at home.  It is also best not to wear any make-up.  You will be asked to wear an examination gown during the MRI examination.  Items such as purses, wallets, phones, hearing aids, metal jewellery, watches, pens, keys, coins, belt buckles, and shoes will need to be removed.

What will happen during the examination?

The examination will be performed by a qualified and accredited MRI radiographer.

The MRI scanner shaped like a long tube, is about 1.4m in length, more than 70cm wide and is open at both ends. The MRI radiographer will position you on the MRI table, often with a separate receiver coil or antenna which detects the MRI signal placed on or around the region being imaged and move you into the magnet.

Due to the loud noises produced by the MRI scanner during the imaging process, you will be given earplugs or headphones to wear during the scan. As the MRI system at Surfers Paradise has the latest technology available, you will be able to watch a movie during the scan, which can take between 30 to 60 minutes.

The MRI radiographer will have visual and voice contact with you via a window and an intercom for the duration of the examination.

You will also be given a call buzzer which may be used to gain the attention of the MRI radiographer at any time during the scan.

During this minimally invasive, image-guided procedure, you will lay face down on a padded exam table and the breasts are positioned into openings in coil on the table. The breasts are then gently compressed between two plates marked with a grid structure, and scanned in different directions. Using targeting software, the radiologist measures and pinpoints the position of the area of interest. This helps us calculate the position and depth of the needle placement for the biopsy.

In preparation for the biopsy, a local anaesthetic is injected into the breast to numb it. The radiologist then inserts a core needle and advances it into the area under of interest. More scans are done to verify the needle is in the correct position. Once the needles position has been confirmed, a vacuum-assisted needle is used to pull tissue from the breast into the sampling chamber. The tissue samples are then taken to the laboratory for pathology testing.

You will be awake during your biopsy and should have little discomfort and most women report little or no pain and no scarring on the breast.

Other Considerations

Some MRI examinations require an injection of a contrast medium into an arm vein to show more precise detail of tissues.

Are there any risks?

MRI does not use ionising radiation which is used in x-ray and CT scanning. The magnetic field and radio frequency (RF) pulses used in clinical MRI are believed not to produce any long-term ill effects and is very safe to patients, especially those requiring multiple follow up studies.

How long does an MRI take?

On arrival there will be approximately 15mins of preparation time, particularly involving safety questions and confirming your personal and medical details. Most scans take approximately 30 to 45 minutes to complete.

Please phone (07)  5655 1988 for more detailed information.

Download the MRI Patient Questionnaire and Consent form: Click Here


  • MRI
  • CT
  • X-Ray
  • Ultrasound
  • Mammography
  • Nuclear Medicine
  • Bone Mineral Density
  • 24hr ECG Monitoring