Breast MRI & Breast Biopsy

Breast MRI (Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is an advanced imaging tool that, when used in conjunction with annual screening mammograms, gives your physician the best chance of detecting cancers.

Breats MRI can also be useful for determining the best course of treatment for women who have been newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast MRI does not take the place of mammography, but is used to supplement the information that mammography provides.


Breast MRI may be ordered to evaluate:

  • Abnormal breast tissue identified through mammography or ultrasound
  • Very dense breast tissue
  • Breast implants
  • A mass that can be felt during a manual breast examination

A Breast MRI Biopsy may also be required to make a definitive diagnosis. MRI Guided Breast Biopsy is a minimally invasive procedure, requiring a shorter recovery time than traditional surgical biopsy.


To schedule your Breast MRI or a Breast MRI Biopsy, contact the Medical Imaging Scheduling Department at 412.942.8150.  Breast MRI and Breast MRI-guided Biopsy services are available at the following addresses:

St. Clair Hospital

1000 Bower Hill Road
Pittsburgh, PA  15243
(Mt. Lebanon)


Mondays through Fridays: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Saturdays: 8 a.m. to noon for selected services
Additional evening hours are also available for selected services

St. Clair Hospital Outpatient Center at Village Square

2000 Oxford Drive, Suite 110
Bethel Park, PA  15102


Mondays through Thursdays:  8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Fridays: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Saturdays: 8 a.m. to noon for selected services


How Do I Prepare for My Breast MRI or Breast Biopsy?

  • When you schedule your appointment you will be asked a series of screening questions to determine if there is anything in your history that might prevent you from having an MRI.
  • If you have a history of renal impairment, diabetes or hypertension, you will need to obtain a blood test (GFR) to determine if your kidneys are functioning well enough to receive Gadolinium, an intravenous contrast agent typically used in breast MRI.  Please have your blood testing done at least 48 hours prior to your MRI appointment.
  • If your mammogram or breast ultrasound was done at a facility other than St. Clair Hospital or St. Clair Hospital Outpatient Center at Village Square, it is very important that you bring your films or CD of the exams with you to your appointment.

The Day Before the Examination

  • Pre-register for your test by calling 412.942.8152
  • Call 412.942.6157 to schedule free transportation via the St. Clair Hospital van if needed.

The Day of the Examination

  • You may eat and drink normally
  • You may take your medications
  • Report directly to the Mammography Department on the Third Floor
  • Bring any prior mammography or ultrasound films with you if they were not performed at a St. Clair Hospital facility
  • Plan on being in the department for approximately 1 hour
  • You will read and sign a consent form
  • You will change into a special wrap-around patient gown
  • Remove any metal objects including your watch, body piercings, glasses and hearing aids. You will be assigned a locker to store your personal items
  • Please leave valuables and jewelry at home

What Will Happen During the Breast MRI or Breast Biopsy?

Breast MRI

  • You will be asked to lie on your stomach on a table that slides into the MRI scanner
  • Your breasts will hang through specially-cushioned openings
  • During your scan, the technologist will monitor you through a large window and communicate with you via an intercom
  • All MRI scanners generate some vibrations and make some knocking and pinging noises while they are acquiring the images
  • Ear plugs or headphones for noise reduction are available for your use
  • You must hold still while the MRI is being performed because any movement will cause the images to be out of focus and the test may need to be repeated

Breast Biopsy

  • A shortened version of the breast MRI will be repeated prior to the biopsy in order to identify and mark the biopsy site
  • Our radiologists, who have undergone special training in performing Breast MRI-guided Biopsy, will remove a sample of the suspicious breast tissue through a special type of needle
  • The tissue sample is then sent to Pathology (laboratory) for testing

What Will Happen After the Breast MRI or Breast Biopsy?

Our staff of board-certified Radiologists will review the images and a report will be sent to your personal physician, and he or she will discuss the results with you.  If your physician has requested copies of your breast MRI on a compact disc (CD), please inform the technologist before you leave.

After your MRI is finished, you may resume your normal activities.  You might experience some discomfort at the biopsy site for several days.  Please contact the St. Clair Hospital Mammography Center at 412.942.3177 if you have any questions.

Is It Safe to Have an MRI?

It is not safe for you to have an MRI if you have any of the following:

  • Pacemaker
  • Implanted defibrillators
  • Cochlear implant
  • Breast tissue expander
  • Metallic fragments in your eyes
  • Surgical clips from surgeries in the prior six weeks

Some things might or might not be compatible with MRI. Our medical staff will determine if it is safe for you to have an MRI if you have any of the following:

  • Spinal cord stimulator
  • Aneurysm clips
  • Metallic implants
  • Surgical staples or clips
  • Prosthetic Heart valves
  • Stents
  • Neurostimulators
  • Tattoos
  • Recent surgery or procedure
  • Pregnancy
  • Medication patches
  • Non-removable body piercings
  • Prosthetic heart valves

More Information

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Mayo Clinic Health Information

Learn more about Breast MRIs from our Mayo Clinic Health Information section