The London Clinic has a state of the art imaging department providing our patients and referring doctors with a comprehensive range of investigations to cater for our patients’ individual needs. Our consultants have access to some of the most advanced technology available. As part of its imaging facilities, we have two MRI scanners, both offering a comprehensive range of MRI investigations.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a scanning technique that can be used to generate diagnostic images of the breast.
Although not used for routine breast screening, an MRI scan can reveal breast tumours that are too small to detect through physical examinations or are difficult to see on traditional mammograms.
An MRI scan does not take the place of a mammogram, but it can be performed as an extra study of your breast.
How does an MRI scan work?
A breast MRI is a scan specifically focused on the breasts, always scanning both breast at once following a contrast injection to produce the most optimal pictures.
An MRI scan uses a magnetic field and radio waves to generate images of the interior of your breast. It does not use X-rays, so there is no risk of being exposed to radiation when you have an MRI scan. The images produced are virtual ‘slices’ through the breast, taken at every possible angle. These are then put together by a computer to build up an accurate 3-dimensional image of the breast tissue.
MRI scanning is very sensitive and can detect tiny breast tumours, much smaller than those that show up on a mammogram. It is also able to detect breast cancer in the denser breasts of younger women.
Benefits of an MRI scan for breast cancer diagnosis:
- An MRI scan is more sensitive to changes in the breast, so can detect breast tumours that are very small.
- It is a more reliable screen for breast cancer in women who have breast implants or scar tissue as these can confuse the analysis of a mammogram.
- Early stage breast cancer can be identified in younger women who have dense breast tissue that makes mammography difficult.
- MRI scanning can reveal if there are any other breast tumours in the breast of a woman who is due to have surgery to remove an obvious lump .
- The technique is sensitive enough to tell the difference between scar tissue and recurrent breast tumours in women already treated for breast cancer.
- MRI scanning can be used to find out if a breast cancer found by mammography or ultrasound has spread beyond the breast.
- MRI scanning can be used to monitor the size of breast tumours in women being treated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy. This can show how well the current treatment is working.
Am I suitable for an MRI scan?
Not everyone is suitable for an MRI scan and it is important that you let us know if you have the following risk factors:
- Cardiac pacemaker
- Heart valves
- Cochlear implant
- Surgery involving metal implants in the last six weeks
- Possible or confirmed pregnancy
- Injuries involving metallic fragments in the eyes
- Gunshot or shrapnel injuries
How is the procedure performed?
Before you lie down, a small plastic cannula will be inserted into your arm for the IV contrast injection however, the actual injection is not administered until close to the end of the scan.
You will be asked to lie face down on a table, placing your breasts into position onto a specific breast cradle. The table will move through the cylinder to the required position.
The scan will take approximately 30 minutes.
What are the benefits?
Multiplanar images of the breasts will be acquired without the use of ionising radiation that will assist the clinician in diagnosing and planning treatment. MRI can successfully image dense breasts common in younger women, as well as breast implants, both of which are difficult to image using traditional mammography.
How do I get my results?
The scan will be reported by a specialist consultant radiologist and the results will be forwarded to the referring clinician within 24 hours.
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