MRI Breast Imaging

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. No radiation is used in any form during an MRI scan.

Breast MRI

What are the main reasons for a breast MRI?

The most recent guidelines from the American Cancer Society include screening MRI with mammography for certain high-risk women. This option should be considered for the following:

Women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation (BRCA1 is a gene, which, when altered, indicates an inherited susceptibility to cancer. BRCA2 is a gene, which, when altered, indicates an inherited susceptibility to breast and/or ovarian cancer.)

  • Women with a first-degree relative (mother, sister, and/or daughter) with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, if they have not yet been tested for the mutation
  • Women with a 20% to 25% or greater lifetime risk of breast cancer, based on 1 of several accepted risk assessment tools that look at family history and other factors
  • Women who have had radiation treatment to the chest between the ages of 10 and 30, such as for treatment of Hodgkin disease
  • Women with the genetic disorders Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome; or those who have a first degree relative with the syndrome

Other reasons for breast MRI include:

  • Further evaluation of abnormalities detected by mammography
  • Finding early breast cancers not detected by other tests, especially in women at high risk and women with dense breast tissue
  • Examination for cancer in women who have implants or scar tissue that might produce an inaccurate result from a mammogram. This test can also be helpful for women with lumpectomy scars to check for any changes.
  • Detecting small abnormalities not seen with mammography or ultrasound (for example, MRI has been useful for women who have breast cancer cells present in an underarm lymph node, but do not have a lump that can be felt or can be viewed on diagnostic studies)
  • Assess for leakage from a silicone gel implant
  • Evaluate the size and precise location of breast cancer lesions, including the possibility that more than one area of the breast may be involved
  • Detecting changes in the other breast that has not been newly diagnosed with breast cancer (There is an approximately 10 percent chance that women with breast cancer will develop cancer in the opposite breast.
  • Detection of the spread of breast cancer into the chest wall, which may change treatment options
  • Detection of breast cancer recurrence or residual tumour after lumpectomy
  • Evaluation of a newly inverted nipple change

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 radiographer will position you on the MRI table, face down on a special padded exam table and the breasts are positioned into openings. The breasts are then very gently compressed but only enough to restrict any movement.

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 45 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.

Other Considerations

Nearly all Breast MRI examinations require an injection of a contrast medium into an arm vein to show more precise detail of tissues.  The injection of contrast medium is especially important when having an abbreviated breast MRI assessment.

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