What to expect
For MRI of the breast, the patient lies on her stomach with both breasts hanging freely into a cushioned recess containing the signal receiver (also known as the breast coil). The entire bed on which she is lying is advanced into the opening of the magnet (a tube-like machine that looks like a giant donut–open at both ends). The patient will be asked to lie still for up to 15 minutes at a time while the computer acquires the images; the total examination is made up of several scans, usually 5 to 15 minutes in length and the patient is usually in the magnet for 40-60 minutes. An intravenous injection of a small amount of MRI contrast, called gadolinium, is necessary for most breast MRI examinations.