Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the breast — or breast MRI — is a test used to detect breast cancer and other abnormalities in the breast. It captures multiple pictures of your breast and then combines the images on a computer to generate a detailed report. Breast MRI to detect cancer requires injection of a contrast agent but does not emit radiation.

We may recommend a breast MRI when we require more information than a mammogram, ultrasound or clinical breast exam can provide. In certain situations, such as when a woman has a very high risk of breast cancer, breast MRI may be used along with mammograms as a screening tool for detecting breast cancer.

MRI is also used to detect breast implant integrity. An implant rupture, especially if it’s a silicone implant, can be difficult to identify. MRI is the imaging modality of choice for detecting a rupture.

woman receiving a MRI

A Breast MRI May Be Recommended If:

  • You’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer and the surgeons at Saint Johns want to determine the extent of the cancer or cancer in the opposite breast.
  • You or your doctor can feel a mass or other lump in your breast, but it’s not detectable on mammogram or ultrasound.
  • You have a suspected leak or rupture of a breast implant.
  • You’re at high risk of breast cancer, defined as a lifetime risk of 20 to 25 percent or greater.
  • You have a strong family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer.
  • You have very dense breast tissue and your prior breast cancer wasn’t detected on mammogram.
  • You have a history of precancerous breast changes — such as atypical hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ — a strong family history of breast cancer and dense breast tissue.
  • You have breast cancer cells in your lymph node but your mammogram and ultrasound cannot find the cancer.

Breast MRI should be in addition to a mammogram or another breast-imaging test, and not as a replacement for a mammogram. Although it’s a very sensitive test, breast MRI can still miss some breast cancers that a mammogram will detect.

Breast Cancer Screening Methods and Myths Webinar

Watch our breast cancer doctors at the Margie Petersen Breast Center at Providence Saint John’s, discuss the different types of breast cancer screening methods including, breast exams, mammography, ultrasounds, MRI, and biopsy, as well as share the facts for all the common breast cancer myths you’ve heard.

Meet Our Breast Health Care Team

The Margie Petersen Breast Center at Providence Saint John’s Health Center brings you some of the finest breast health and cancer care in Southern California.

Meet Our Breast Health Experts

Margie Petersen Breast Team


The Breast Health Clinic can be reached at (310) 582-7209. If you have questions regarding a new symptom or want to make an appointment for evaluation please call and a staff member will assist with navigating you in the right direction.

Schedule an Appointment For more information