Breast MRI is the most sensitive tool for the detection of breast cancer and an important component of a comprehensive approach to the diagnosis and management of breast cancer. Breast MRI is typically performed to screen high-risk women, manage women with newly diagnosed breast cancer, and assess the integrity of breast implants.


Breast MRI may be used in conjunction with mammography to screen women with a greater than 20% lifetime risk of breast cancer. More information about high-risk screening, including Duke’s Breast Risk Assessment Clinic can be found here.


For women ineligible for high-risk screening MRI, but who would like more intensive breast cancer screening we offer an abbreviated breast MRI. This shortened MRI protocol takes about 10-15 minutes and is especially useful for women with denser breasts or an intermediate risk of breast cancer. The $400 out-of-pocket cost is less expensive than a traditional MRI not covered by insurance.


Women with silicone implants may undergo breast MRI to evaluate for an implant rupture. MRI is the most effective way of detecting silent rupture of a silicone implant. The United States Food and Drug Administration currently recommends screening with MRI or ultrasound 5-6 years after implantation and then every 2 years thereafter.

Please note that implant rupture in women with saline implants can be detected with physical examination and mammography or ultrasound as needed.


Women with newly diagnosed breast cancer may undergo breast MRI as part of a comprehensive staging plan. Women with breast cancer undergo neoadjuvant chemotherapy may undergo breast MRI to evaluate response to treatment. This decision to perform a breast MRI is typically made by a treating oncologist or surgeon in discussion with the patient.