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Breast MRI 

Breast pain is a common issue that many women face, and it can be a significant source of discomfort and anxiety. While breast pain can be caused by various factors, including hormonal changes, breast tissue density, and even breast cancer, it is essential to understand the different types of breast pain and how to address them effectively.

Why Would a Doctor Order a Breast MRI?

  • High-Risk Individuals: Screening women with genetic mutations (e.g., BRCA1/2) or strong family history of breast cancer.
  • Additional Information: Clarifying inconclusive mammogram or ultrasound results.
  • Monitoring: Tracking treatment response in breast cancer patients.
  • Younger Women: Useful for those with dense breast tissue where mammography may be less effective.

Understanding Breast Pain

Understanding the type of breast pain you are experiencing is crucial for determining the appropriate treatment and management strategies. If you have breast pain, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation.

Breast pain can be categorized into several types, including:  

Cyclical Breast Pain
  • Associated with: Menstrual cycle
  • Symptoms: Felt in both breasts
  • Causes: Hormonal fluctuations
Non-Cyclical Breast Pain
  • Associated with: Not linked to menstrual cycle
  • Causes: Breast tissue density, breast implants, infections, or breast cancer
Breast Cancer-Related Pain
  • Symptoms: Persistent, severe, worsening pain, skin changes, nipple changes and nipple discharge
  • Causes: Tumour growth or spread
  • Action: Requires immediate medical evaluation and treatment

What Does Breast MRI show?

1. Breast Tissue Details
  • Anatomy: Provides a detailed view of the breast anatomy, including the glandular tissue, ducts, and fatty tissues.
  • Density: This can differentiate between dense and less dense breast tissue, which is useful for women with dense breasts where mammograms might be less effective.
2. Tumors and Cancer
  • Detection: Identifies the presence of tumors, including those that are not visible on mammograms or ultrasounds.
  • Size and Location: Determines the size, shape, and exact location of tumors.
  • Extent of Disease: Assesses the extent of breast cancer, including multifocal, multicentric, and bilateral disease (tumors in both breasts).
3. Lymph Nodes
  • Evaluation: Examines lymph nodes in the armpit (axillary lymph nodes) and other nearby areas for signs of cancer spread.
4. Blood Supply
  • Vascularization: Visualizes the blood supply to breast tissues and tumors, which can help distinguish between benign and malignant growths.
5. Implant Integrity
  • Implant Assessment: Checks the integrity of breast implants and detects ruptures or leaks.
6. Post-Treatment Monitoring
  • Effectiveness of Treatment: Monitors changes in breast tissue following surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.
  • Recurrence: Detects any recurrence of cancer after treatment.
7. High-Risk Screening
  • Genetic Risk: Used for screening women at high risk of breast cancer due to genetic factors (e.g., BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations) or family history.

What to Expect During a Breast MRI?

  • Preparation: You may be asked to avoid caffeine and wear comfortable clothing. Remove any metal objects before the procedure.
  • Procedure: You'll lie face down on a special table with your breasts positioned in openings. The table then slides into the MRI machine.
  • Contrast Dye: A contrast dye may be injected into your vein to enhance image clarity.
  • Imaging Process: The MRI machine makes loud noises; earplugs or headphones are often provided. The procedure typically lasts 30-60 minutes.
  • Aftercare: There are usually no restrictions post-MRI, and you can resume normal activities immediately. 

How to prepare for a Breast MRI?

You will receive preparation notes and instructions from our clinicians ahead of your appointment at a scanning center. It is recommended that you wear soft, comfortable clothing and no jewelry. This is because you will be asked to remove your clothes from the waist upwards (including your bra) and put on a hospital gown for the procedure.

Breast MRI Positioning

Proper positioning is crucial for obtaining clear and accurate images during a breast MRI. Here's what you can expect:

  • Face-Down Position: You will lie face down on a padded table designed with openings for your breasts to fit through comfortably.
  • Breast Placement: Your breasts will be positioned into the openings to ensure they are appropriately placed for optimal imaging.
  • Arm and Head Positioning: Your arms will be extended above your head or placed at your sides, and your head will rest on a cushioned support.
  • Staying Still: It’s important to remain still during the scan to avoid blurring the images. You may be provided with pillows or padding to help maintain comfort and minimize movement.
  • Communication: You will have a way to communicate with the MRI technician, who will guide you through the process and provide instructions as needed.

How Long Does a Breast MRI Take?

 A typical breast MRI scan takes about 30 minutes to complete, though the total appointment time may be 40-60 minutes. Here are the key details:

  • The actual breast MRI scan itself lasts up to 20 minutes.
  • The additional time is used for screening questionnaires, IV placement, and proper positioning for the exam.
  • Many facilities plan for a 40-60-minute appointment slot to account for the full process.
  • However, the scan itself, where the patient lies still in the MRI machine, is usually around 30 minutes long.


If you fall into any of these categories or have been recommended for further evaluation, consider scheduling a breast MRI with GetScanned. Early detection and accurate monitoring can make a significant difference in your breast health management.

Don't leave your breast health to chance—book your breast MRI with GetScanned today and ensure you receive the comprehensive care you deserve!

Lorea content writter
Reviewed by
Dr. Sachin Shah
Clinical Lead
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Frequently asked questions

Do I need a GP-referral?

No prior GP-referral is required. Booking with us includes a GP phone consultation and referral. Shortly after booking you will be contacted by a GP from our team who will discuss your scan and provide a referral.

How long is an MRI scan?

MRI scans generally take a bit longer than other types of scans. Individual scans take 10-30 minutes depending on the body part being scanned, overall it can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 90 minutes. You do have to lay very still for an MRI and if there is movement the scan may need to be repeated which can add some additional time.

What’s included in my booking?

With your GetScanned booking, you will receive:

  • A pre-scan phone consultation with a member of our medical team.
  • A referral for the scan.
  • Scheduling of a private MRI scan at your preferred scanning centre.
  • Access to your written report by a radiologist.
  • Access to your scan images (online and downloadable).

How much is a private MRI scan?

A private MRI scan cost varies depending on the part of the body being scanned and the location the scan is performed. Generally, a private MRI scan in the UK starts at around £350, and includes the scheduling, scan itself and results.

What’s the difference between an open and closed MRI?

Closed MRI machines are the traditional and first type of MRI. They are used more frequently because they provide higher quality images, however they aren’t ideal for certain types of scan or when the patient has limited mobility. Open or wide-bore MRI machines don’t involve lying in a tight cylinder, instead they have wider openings with more space and are therefore considered better if you suffer from claustrophobia. A standing MRI or upright MRI is a new type of open MRI that allows the patient to be in various different positions, including weight bearing positions. If you would prefer an open MRI please filter by MRI type to find an open MRI near you, but please be aware it is only available at certain locations.

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