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Breast MRI

Breast MRIDedicated breast MRI is offered at both St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit as well as St. John Providence Hospital in Southfield. Breast MRI is a diagnostic tool that uses magnetic fields, not radiation, to create images of the body.

The best MRI technique involves the use of a special "breast coil." Both of our facilities at St. John Health use a dedicated breast coil. During an MRI, you lie still on your stomach and your breasts lie through two holes in the table. You are moved in and out of a narrow tube as the machine creates images of your body (see attached picture). Allow 1 1/2 hours for your MRI exam. In most cases, the procedure takes 45 to 60 minutes, during which time several dozen images may be obtained. If you're claustrophobic, being confined within an MRI machine for up to 1 ½ hours can be difficult. Please discuss any concerns about claustrophobia with your physician prior to the test.

Before the MRI you will be asked to change into a hospital gown. You will have an IV (intravenous line) placed into your hand or arm. As the MRI scan begins, you will hear the equipment making a muffled thumping sound that will last for several minutes. Other than the sound, you should experience no unusual sensations or pain during the scan. Once the procedure is over, the IV will be removed and you can immediately return to your usual activities. There are no eating or drinking restrictions before or after a breast MRI. Your physician should get back to you with the results usually within a week. 
Breast MRI is not routinely used as a screening tool in the general population and is still reserved for special populations of people. Some of these special populations include:

  • Women who have been newly diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Young women with dense breasts who are at high risk for breast cancer; especially those who have been found to have a genetic mutation for breast cancer.
  • Women whose have breast cancer cells in an underarm lymph node, but have no breast mass that doctors are able to feel or see on a mammogram.
  • MRI can help determine if a cancer is limited to one area of the breast, or if it is "multicentric" and involves more than one area.
  • Women with invasive lobular cancer, which has a tendency to be diffuse or multicentric.
  • MRI is good for looking at scar tissue. It can evaluate a significant change in the lumpectomy site.
  • Women with implants; MRI scanning can detect leakage from a silicone-filled breast implant, since it easily distinguishes silicone gel from surrounding normal breast and chest  wall tissues.

Breast MRI may not be done in certain people with metal devices, such as pacemakers, artifial joints or heart valves. A radiology technitian will review any restrictions prior to booking the appointment. MRI are also sometimes not done due to pregnancy in certain trimesters, weight requirement, and if someone is not able to lie on their stomach for up to an hour.


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National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC)

The St. John Providence Breast Care Program is fully accredited by the American College of Surgeons. Our Breast Care Program was first accredited in 2009 and was just reaccredited in 2012. We are one of just nine programs in Michigan accredited through the NAPBC.


The St. John Providence Health System Breast Care Program is here for you. If you are a woman under or uninsured and need a mammogram we may be able to help. Call our Cancer Care Coordinators for more information at 1-866-246-4673.

Our position on the importance of mammography

St. John Providence Health System Breast Care Program is strongly opposed to the new recommendations from the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF). Our breast program will continue to follow the guidelines set forth by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and the American Cancer Society (ACS).