Exterior photo of the UVM Medical Center entrance.

Breast - MRI

 (802) 847-0833

111 Colchester Avenue
Main Campus, McClure, Level L
Burlington, VT 05401

Monday: 7:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Tuesday: 7:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Wednesday: 7:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Thursday: 7:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Friday: 7:00 AM - 10:00 PM

Breast MRI at the UVM Medical Center

If you are at high risk for breast cancer, breast MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) provides you and your doctor with an additional imaging method to better screen your breast tissue for cancer, or to take a closer look at problem areas. Breast MRI safely uses a powerful magnet and radio frequency pulses to produce detailed images without the radiation exposure of X-rays. 

At The University of Vermont Medical Center, our state-of-the-art breast MRI program offers:  

  • Experienced breast MRI team: UVM Medical Center radiologists who interpret breast MRI exams have completed specific breast imaging training, ensuring your imaging test will always be read by a knowledgeable expert. With specialized training in breast imaging, our skilled MRI technologists focus not only on capturing the highest quality images but also on keeping you comfortable throughout the breast MR imaging exam. 
  • Leading-edge equipment: We perform breast MRI exams as well as MRI-guided breast biopsies using the latest technology specifically designed for breast imaging procedures. Depending on your needs, we offer breast MRI exams on advanced 3 Tesla (3T) Philips MRI scanners that produce the most detailed images available today, with much shorter scan times than standard 1.5T MRI scanners.  
  • More options for patient comfort: We offer wide bore MRI scanners that have larger openings, making them less confining and more spacious than standard closed MRI units. Comfortable for patients of all shapes and sizes, this equipment produces superior quality imaging to open MRI machines. 

Conditions we evaluate with breast MRI 

Breast MRI provides different information than mammography exams and breast ultrasounds. Sometimes, a breast MRI reveals breast abnormalities not found by other imaging tests. This exam may be used to evaluate breast symptoms after an initial workup with mammography and/or ultrasound is performed for patients with breast symptoms such as: 

  • Tenderness 
  • Discharge 
  • Swelling 
  • New lumps 

If you have been newly diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor may order a breast MRI to further evaluate the extent of your disease. 

The American Cancer Society recommends annual breast MRI exams to supplement regular mammography screening for women at higher risk for breast cancer (those with an estimated lifetime risk of 20% or greater). 

Your doctor can help you determine your risk for breast cancer, which depends on many factors including your family history, past radiation therapy and breast density. People who have a breast cancer gene mutation (such as BRCA1 or BRCA2) are at greatly increased risk for breast cancer.  

For more information about genetics and cancer, contact the UVM Cancer Center's Familial Cancer  program and genetic coordinator at 802-847-1328

What to expect from a breast MRI exam

There are no dietary restrictions required prior to your breast MRI exam. You may eat and drink normally. Because of the powerful magnet used in the procedure, for your safety you will need to remove any metallic objects, such as jewelry, dentures and hearing aids, before entering the scanning room. 

Your technologist may need to insert a small IV needle into a vein in your hand or arm, which will be used to inject contrast dye that will enhance the images we capture. 

The MRI unit is a large, cylinder-shaped tube surrounded by a circular magnet. You will lie on your stomach on a motorized, moveable table that slides into the scanner. The MRI machine makes loud thumping noises during the imaging process. You will be provided with ear protection to help reduce the noise and increase your overall comfort. 

During the exam, you must lie still for approximately 20 to 30 minutes. Subtle movements can blur MRI images, making it more difficult for the breast imaging radiologist interpreting your test to provide an accurate diagnosis. Your MRI technologist will be in constant communication with you through an intercom system. If at any point you have a question or a concern, they will be able to hear you and quickly come to your assistance.