Magnetic resonance- or MR-guided breast biopsy uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to help locate a breast lump or abnormality and guide a needle to remove a tissue sample for examination under a microscope. It does not use ionizing radiation and leaves little to no scarring.

Lumps or abnormalities in the breast are often detected by physical examination, mammography, or other imaging studies. However, it is not always possible to tell from these imaging tests whether a growth is benign or cancerous.

A breast biopsy is performed to remove some cells from a suspicious area in the breast and examine them under a microscope to determine a diagnosis. This can be performed surgically or, more commonly, by a radiologist using a less invasive procedure that involves a hollow needle and image-guidance. Image-guided needle biopsy is not designed to remove the entire lesion.

Magnetic resonance- or MR-guided breast biopsy uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to help locate a breast lump or abnormality and guide a needle to remove a tissue sample for examination under a microscope. It does not use ionizing radiation and leaves little to no scarring.

Lumps or abnormalities in the breast are often detected by physical examination, mammography, or other imaging studies. However, it is not always possible to tell from these imaging tests whether a growth is benign or cancerous.

A breast biopsy is performed to remove some cells from a suspicious area in the breast and examine them under a microscope to determine a diagnosis. This can be performed surgically or, more commonly, by a radiologist using a less invasive procedure that involves a hollow needle and image-guidance. Image-guided needle biopsy is not designed to remove the entire lesion.

In MRI-guided breast biopsy, magnetic resonance imaging is used to help guide the radiologist’s instruments to the site of the abnormal growth.

An MRI-guided breast biopsy is most helpful when MR imaging shows a breast abnormality such as:

  • a suspicious mass not identified by other imaging techniques
  • an area of distortion
  • an area of abnormal tissue change.

Procedure:

A nurse or technologist will insert an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your hand or arm and the contrast material gadolinium will be given intravenously.

Your breast will be gently compressed between two compression plates (similar to those used in a diagnostic MRI exam), one of which is marked with a grid structure. Using computer software, the radiologist measures the position of the lesion with respect to the grid and calculates the position and depth of the needle placement.

A local anesthetic will be injected into the breast to numb it. A very small nick is made in the skin at the site where the biopsy needle is to be inserted.

The radiologist then inserts the needle, advances it to the location of the abnormality and MR imaging is performed to verify its position. Tissue samples are then removed. After this sampling, the needle will be removed.

Once the biopsy is complete, pressure will be applied to stop any bleeding and the opening in the skin is covered with a dressing. No sutures are needed. This procedure is usually completed within 45 minutes.

MRI-guided breast biopsy is performed on our high field open MRI for greater patient comfort. MRI-guided breast biopsy service is held at the DIS Women’s & Advanced Imaging Center in Metairie.