MRI - what happens?

I’ve read on another post that when you have a breast MRI you lie on your tummy with boobs dangling through a couple of holes. Is this really how it’s done? My daughter damaged a shoulder and had an MRI a few years ago so I’m familiar with the rather claustrophobic and very loud machine, but the boobs through the holes thing is news to me. If you’ve had a breast MRI, what happened at it?

Sorry, I recently had MRI but was on the spine so no dangling my bits through holes ! If it is the case, they must have to have lots of different sized holes for boobs to go thru - sounds bizarre but stranger things happen I guess ! All the best x

Yes that is what happens, so you go into the machine face down, but it’s not as bad as it sounds!


I had one and you do lie on your tummy with boob through big hole! You have to be adjusted too. There is info here with piccies, but it is quite detailed (not gruesome though) so only look if you are a real need to know person like me!
The people were fantastic and I found it an ok experience so don’t worry. Wendy x

Ive had two MRI’s.1 with 2 boobs, next with 1!
As others have said, you lie with them down a kinda pit, with your arm-if its 1 side- straight in front of you.
They usually say to bring some music, as they put headphones on with a mix of the operators voice for instructions as well as your fav tunes!
You will have a drip in the affected side which pumps some liquid into your system.
It can be noisy and a little uncomfortable but I didnt find it claustrophbic as the machine isnt closed in entirely.
My tip would be to keep your socks on as the room is cool to accomodate the machines!!
Thats all I can remember for now, but honestly do-able.
Good luck
Cathie xx

Hi agree wih all the above. My MRIs were done with contrast something called gandolinium (sp). That is I had an IV cannula put in and was attached to a syringe on a pump thing. The inj was put in towards the end of the MRI. I was not aware that it was being done during the scan tho.My only prob was I shiver towards the end of the scan so after the 1st one I was able to remind the staff I needed wrapping in a blanket for future scans Ah.The staff were lovely. Jackie

I didnt like the mri you do lie face down with your boobs in pockets i dont handle enclosed spaces very well so i oppted for the ultrasound scan instead still does the same job i was upset enough without the worry of keep going for mri aswell

I didnt do the MRI screening wasnt confey with the enclosure i oppted for the ultrasound instead you do lie face down with your boobs in pockets the mc is very noisy but you can listen to music

I’ve had ultrasound and mammogram but because the consultant said my breasts are quite glandular, the tumour that we know is there can’t be seen among the glandular tissue and assorted cysts, so she wants to be really sure and have a very close look at both of them, with the possibility of further pin-cushion treatment. Wonder if that means I’ll have gadolinium and canulas in both arms…

Very interesting link, Wendy, and I am indeed a “need to know everything” kind of person, though I believe any biopsies that may be needed will be ordered separately and not done at the same time as the MRI. Silly me though, should have googled the website of the MRI provider, which I also did. That didn’t say anything about biopsies happening at the same time, so that’ll probably be separate.

And I do get cold easily so a great tip about the socks, thanks. My favourites are welly boot socks, they’re fab!)

Hi Choccie muffin

Just to answer your further queries - I had an MRI for exactly same reasons as you. I had tumours in both breasts but they only put the canula in my right hand and the biopsies were done about a week later.

Top tip - if you have long hair fasten it back (No metal clips)- my fringe flopped into my face within seconds of starting the MRI and nearly drove me mad!!

Hi Chocciemuffin the contrast from just the one cannula and inj gets both breasts so don’t worry if you do have an MRI with contrast I shouldn’t think you will need 2 cannulas.I think it is a combination of all these scans that gives our Oncs/surgeons a good overall picture of what is going on.Jackie

Hi, I am due a breast MRI for my first annual check up as I have lobular bc this is done in addition to my mammogram. I assume the mx & recon side will also be fitted into one of the coils to be part of the MRI? Forgot to ask at the time during appointment… X

iv had a spinal mri and a breast mri… i found the spinal one very claustrophobic as it felt like there wasnt enough air circulating, howver the breast one my head was resting on a had rest and the machine was further away from my face.

biopsies are rarely done under MRI but if they cannot feel the lump, or see it on mammo or USS then they can be done by MRI.

you only need one injection of dye as its intravenous and travels around the body… i have been affected on both sides and only get one injection… it also may not be on your affected side as they shouldnt actually be putting cannulas in your affected side as it can increase your risk of lymphoedema.

Lulu xx

I have had 2 of the breast MRI thingies, 3 months between them. It isn’t so bad cos you can see out a bit so don’t feel so enclosed. It is very doable
x sarah

Thanks Lulu. I haven’t had surgery yet so I don’t think they’d be considering lymphodema just quite yet awhile. But good to know there’s only one cannula needed.

I am planning on getting in there and relaxing completely with my eyes shut. I understand they need you to lie very still so that should be possible as long as I’m warm enough.

I had a MRI quite a few years ago. I found it a bit claustophobic, so I closed my eyes and imagined myself on a beach. Then mentally I went through every beach I had ever been on and relaxed there a little while. It worked for me. Good luck. Dx

So, MRI scan done. For anyone who’s interested, it was all fine, and not a problem at all. Thank you for the tips on this thread, they were very useful. For anyone who’s about to have one, here are the good things that I got from today.

  • The technicians were very good and while matter-of-fact (just what I need) they treated me with digity.

  • The suggestion to bring warm socks was a very good one - thanks whoever said that one.

  • Also wear some trousers to help with keeping warm, though they must not have any metal bits like zips, so elastic waisted trackie bottoms or leggings would be fine (I had some black velvet trousers waist so looked as if I was going out for the evening!) The also will cover you with a blanket.

  • Long haired people, tie your hair back with an elastic band with no metal, or a ribbon, to stop it falling on your face.

  • You lie face down, so close your eyes and wait for the masseuse to arrive. (Sadly she never will, but it’s a good mindset to get in, if possible. That, or sunbathing on a beach, or drifting off to sleep if you’re a tummy sleeper.)

  • The noise is very loud but rhythmic, so it’s a bit like the beat from trance music. If you can, try to relax and “zone out”. I did feel a bit spaced out when I was taken out of the machine as I’d been so far off in my own world and had almost dozed off.

  • They may ask if you have a radio station you’d like to listen to. I said Radio 4 just to hear the background noise of voices, as I reckon music that wasn’t in the same beat as the machine would have just been annoying, but I think that’s just me! You can’t hear anything much anyway because the machine is so loud, but nice to have the radio on.

  • If you have the gadolinium stuff, I found it really didn’t hurt at all. I THINK I felt when it was injected but I’m not sure.

  • If you have GOLD rings on your fingers I was told it was ok to keep them on. I couldn’t get my mum’s wedding ring off and that was fine, but my hand did feel a bit “fizzy” in time with the noise of the machine.

  • IT WASN’T NOT PAINFUL IN THE SLIGHTEST. Well, for me anyhow. But they did give me a buzzer to press if it did feel painful when the stuff was injected, which I didn’t need but was reassuring to have.

  • I asked if I could have a look at the pictures (because I’m nosy like that) and I found it fascinating that they can get such detailed pictures. Obviously the technicians will not interpret any of it for you, and I didn’t ask them to, just asked if the pictures were clear enough.

  • If you do feel a bit weepy about the fact that you need an MRI, go right ahead and let it out.

Next thing is to wait for the results, which I have been told should be with my consultant on Friday (Christmas Eve). I’ve left a message with her secretary asking either for an appointment for Christmas Eve or at least a phone call to let me know if I need to have any further tests, biopsies etc, as that is something she indicated last time I spoke to her. But for now I’m of the hook as I just have to wait for the radiographer to interpret the results.

I had my first MRI today. I asked about the plopping your boobs into holes thing and she said that’s what they do unless someone’s boobs are too big to fit in the holes. I tried to keep images of cows’ dangling udders out of my head…

The funniest part was the jellytots!
The radiographer taped two golden jelly capsules (they looked like globules of sunflower oil) over my nips. I forgot about them until I got home and showed them to my OH and he was amazed. It’s a medical procedure and a new fetish all rolled into one :o)

I can’t say that the MRI was the most fun I’ve ever had, and I have been told that I’ll need more later to prove that the chemo is working and whether or not they need to change the recipe.
Ninja x

I had mine last week, and would just like to reassure anyone that it’s really not an unpleasant experience. You just lie on your front, boobs in the hole on the bed (like udders, as someone said!) & wait while it all happens around you. It does feel a bit isolating, as you are alone in the room, earplugs in & lots of rhythmic noise going on - but it’s best just to zone out as much as you can. When the liquid went into my arm it just felt a bit cold, but they warned me they were about to do it. The worst thing was keeping still for so long, I suddenly felt I was breathing too deeply, & then felt I wasn’t breathing enough. The best advice I had from this forum was to dress warmly in jog bottoms & socks, as it’s quite cold in the room.

Just dittoing above to reassure everyone. I had mine last week and it was fine. Lots of weird noises - but apart from that, I relaxed! And I was in the machine for less than 10 minutes. I thought it was going to be awful and I’d be in there for an hour! So was very pleasantly surprised.