Lakeland Health Care

Breast MRI

What is a Breast MRI?
Magnetic Resonance Imaging is one of the safest and most comfortable imaging tests available.  It uses magnetic fields, not x-rays or radiation, to obtain over 3000 images of the breast.  MRI is more comfortable because it does not require the breasts to be compressed.   
Breast MRI will help up to 1.4 million United States women with a high risk for cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.  As an addition to ultrasound and mammography, Breast MRI can help physicians detect cancer early and save lives.

Who Should Have a Breast MRI?
Breast MRI is often used for evaluating patients with dense breast tissue, breast pain, breast discharge, fibrocystic breast disease, or patients with a personal or family history of breast cancer.  It is also used in conjunction with mammography or ultrasound for clarification of inconclusive or abnormal findings.  Breast MRI can be used for the evaluation of implant rupture, radiation/chemotherapy treatments and searching for primary breast cancer in patients with lymph node disease.

What Are the Benefits of a Breast MRI?

A Breast MRI:

  • is highly sensitive to small abnormalities
  • is used effectively in dense breasts
  • often spots abnormalities missed by mammography
  • evaluates the extent of breast cancer
  • is excellent in detecting breast cancer reoccurrences and residual tumors                                              following lumpectomy
  • may help to determine the extent of necessary surgery
  • does not compress breasts or use x-rays

If I Have an MRI, Do I Still Need a Mammogram?
Yes, an annual mammogram is part of a careful annual health assessment. Mammography is considered an  important diagnostic screening:  it can uncover occurrences such as calcium deposits which are usually benign (non-cancerous) but which can occur in patterns that indicate breast cancer.

What Happens During the Screening?
During your examination, which usually lasts about 25 minutes, you will lie on your stomach.  A technician will  administer an IV containing a small amount of saline and Gadolinium (an enhancing agent).  Then a motorized table will convey you slowly into the spacious scanner.  If at any time you feel uncomfortable, you can discuss your concerns with the technician via a two-way communication system.  

What Happens After My Examination?
Lakeland HealthCare is working with Dr. David Strahle’s Breast MRI Institute in Flint , a Midwest leader in  Breast MRI interpretation, to read your results.  This radiologist will review your images and prepare a detailed report for your doctor, who will then review the report with you and discuss your plan of healthcare. 

What if my Breast MRI Shows a Positive Result?
Lakeland HealthCare and our affiliated physicians offer a continuum of care that is available for patients during every step following diagnosis. Lakeland surgeons, oncologists, and radiation oncologists are experts who use the latest techniques and research to devise a plan of treatment for you.  You can be treated in our community, close to your home and family.

Are Breast MRIs Covered by Insurance?
Most major health insurance plans cover the cost of Breast MRI when a patient has a physician’s order.  If your insurance plan requires you to have prior approval, or precertification, for this procedure, you will need to complete the necessary paperwork prior to your appointment.  
Lakeland HealthCare  will assist you in obtaining this paperwork.

How Can I Schedule an Evaluation?
Ask your doctor if Breast MRI is right for you.   Your doctor will make the necessary referral.  Call the Lakeland scheduling line at (269) 556-2810 to arrange your examination at the 
Lakeland Imaging Center , 3900 Hollywood Road , St. Joseph ; or at Lakeland Regional Medical Center , 1234 Napier Avenue , St. Joseph .

How Can I Learn More?
Visit the American Cancer Society’s website at  for more information, or call the Lakeland HealthLine at (800) 303-8399 to find a physician.

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