Breast MRI

A Complement to Mammography for Further Evaluation

Breast MRI is used as both a diagnostic and screening tool in breast imaging.


FAST Breast MRI is a supplemental screening test for women of average to intermediate risk for developing breast cancer. It is an abbreviated version of a regular Breast MRI, which is used to screen women who are at high risk (such as women with the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 breast cancer genes). Unlike a regular Breast MRI, which can take about 35 minutes, a FAST Breast MRI takes only 5-8 minutes in the scanner. Your total appointment time will take less than an hour.

If you are of average to intermediate risk for breast cancer, a FAST Breast MRI will significantly improve our ability to find cancers not seen on a mammogram. A FAST Breast MRI screening is not intended to replace mammography. An annual mammogram remains the recommended standard of care for women over 40.

Talk with your doctor about whether you need an additional screening test for breast cancer. If so, you will need an order from your provider prior to scheduling. We require you to have had a normal mammogram within one year of a FAST Breast MRI screening test.

FAST Breast MRI exams are available at these centers: Chevy Chase, MD, Fairfax, VA, Potomac, MD, and our Washington, DC center. You may schedule an appointment by calling each center directly. Please be aware that insurance does not cover FAST Breast MRI. It has an out of pocket cost of $495.00.

Regular Breast MRI

For women at normal risk for breast disease, regular Breast MRI is used as a diagnostic tool for the detection and evaluation of an area of interest inside the breast that was noticed on a mammogram. Use of Breast MRI allows Washington Radiology physicians to make well-informed decisions about patient cases.

For women at a high risk for breast disease, guidelines recommend that women undergo screening with regular Breast MRI to monitor their health. Or, if something needs attention, Breast MRI can be used to find it early and reduce the risk, cost, and stress that comes with a later diagnosis.

Regular Breast MRI is a complementary study to annual mammography and is not ordered independent of the mammography exam. MRI is a highly sensitive imaging technique, which means it can identify 'false-positives' and potentially cause unnecessary anxiety in a woman with normal risk. Your physician can make the best determination if you are an appropriate candidate for regular Breast MRI or FAST Breast MRI.


Washington, DC
University Medical Building
2141 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037
P: 202-223-9722 | F: 202-659-2819
HOURS: 7:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday
Limited Services Available

Hours vary by service. See this page for details.

Potomac, MD
Park Potomac
12505 Park Potomac Avenue, Suite 120, Potomac, MD 20854
P: 240-223-4700 | F: 240-223-4701
HOURS: 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday
Limited Services Available
Chevy Chase, MD
Chase Tower
4445 Willard Avenue, Suite 200, Chevy Chase, MD 20815
P: 301-654-4242 | F: 301-907-7414
HOURS: 7:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday

Hours vary by service. See this page for details.

Fairfax, VA
Four Seasons Three
3022 Williams Drive, Suites 104, 200, 204, Fairfax, VA 22031
P: 703-698-8800 | F: 703-573-2318
HOURS: 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday
Limited Services Available

Hours vary by service. See this page for details.

Preparing For Your Breast MRI Exam

Patient peace of mind starts with the right preparation. To obtain the best possible study results, it is important that you follow the instructions below. 

During scheduling, a Washington Radiology team member will review with you the preparation instructions specific to your Breast MRI exam. These instructions are repeated here for easy reference.

In addition to the written order from your doctor, please remember to bring to your appointment any prior images or reports from outside Washington Radiology if related to the reason for your visit with us.  

For all MRI patients, we request the following:

  • Continue to take any medications prescribed by your doctor unless otherwise directed.
  • Wear comfortable clothing without metal zippers, buttons, hooks etc.
  • Because of the magnetic field, we also ask that you not wear any metal hair clips or eye makeup which may contain small metallic flecks which can interfere with your scan.
  • Please leave jewelry and valuables at home.
  • A secure locker will be available to leave metal objects, like your keys and watch, in a safe place.
  • Inform us if you have a pacemaker, artificial heart valves, have any metal objects in your body, are pregnant, or are nursing.
  • MRI contrast policy: Prior to injection, we perform Creatinine testing on all gadolinium contract cases. If test results prohibit the use of a contrast medium, a non-contrast study will be performed in most cases.



  • No food or fluids 2 hours prior to your exam.
  • The timing of the study should be closely linked to the menstrual cycle for women who are premenopausal. The best time to perform a Breast MRI is between days 6 and 12 of your menstrual cycle (day one is the day that your period arrives). For patients who are postmenopausal, the examination can be performed at any time. For those who are perimenopausal, it is optimal to wait for the next cycle to start, and schedule between days 6 and 12. If the menses occur only rarely, then the examination can be scheduled at any time with the understanding that residual hormonal activity can render the examination difficult to interpret. 

If you have any follow-up questions about these important MRI preparations, please contact the Washington Radiology office where your exam is scheduled and ask to speak with the nurse.