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Topic: Breast MRI Pain

Forum: Not Diagnosed but Worried —

Meet others worried about developing breast cancer for the first time. PLEASE DO NOT POST PICTURES OF YOUR SYMPTOMS. Comparing notes, symptoms, or characteristics is not helpful here, as only medical professionals can accurately evaluate and assess your individual situation.

Posted on: Apr 11, 2008 01:06PM

RedWeasel wrote:

I already posted this as an update to my existing thread, but I wanted to put it up under the "MRI" subject line, in case anybody else could relate:

I had my breast MRI this morning, and it was grueling.  Has anyone else had extraordinary pain during a breast MRI?  Because of the positioning, there was a lot of pressure to my breastbone at the beginning of the procedure, which transitioned to pain, and then to unbearable pain by the end.  I felt like such a wimp, but I ended up pressing the "panic button" about ten minutes until the end, but the tech talked me through the final two scans, and I made it through.  I think the pain was bearable until I'd had the contrast stuff in for several scans, and got really flushed.  I have bruising between my breasts now, so it hurts to move, and I feel so weak, because I haven't heard anybody else complain about this!

The radiologist was supposed to read the scans this afternoon, type up an evaluation, and fax it to my doctor.  They said I should hear from my doctor by Monday or Tuesday...

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Oct 4, 2017 01:37PM Simbobby wrote:

I had my first ever breast MRI this morning and I had no idea what I was in for. I had no anxiety or pre-conceived fear. I certainly wasn't expecting any pain. About six minutes into the procedure my rib cage when into agonizing muscle spasm and cramping. I had to press the call button to stop the procedure. The tech told me she had never seen anything like this. Really?

There was no padding or cushion on the bars and I am still in pain. My Oncologist won't start my chemo until he has a baseline MRI so it is now rescheduled for next week. He has prescribed a muscle relaxer to take right before the procedure. Sure hope it helps.

Thank you all for confirming that I'm not crazy. There has got to be a better way.

Dx 9/15/2017, IDC, Right, 6cm+, Stage IIIB, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Chemotherapy 10/9/2017 AC + T (Taxol) Surgery 3/29/2018 Lymph node removal: Right, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right Dx 4/3/2018, Right, 24/26 nodes Hormonal Therapy 4/9/2018 Femara (letrozole) Radiation Therapy Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall
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Oct 5, 2017 07:01AM gb2115 wrote:

I would go in there insisting they pad it. My MRI was padded with hospital sheets. There is no reason they can't do that for you.

Dx IDC in October 2016, stage 2A, 1.2 cm ER/PR+ Her2-, Grade 2, 1/3 nodes. Mammaprint low risk luminal A, Lumpectomy + radiation + tamoxifen. Age 38 at diagnosis.
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Oct 5, 2017 07:40AM tobie2 wrote:

No, you're not crazy, not at all. The muscle relaxant should help. Before the procedure even starts, make sure you're okay with the position and ask for readjustments until you find a position you can withstand for 20 minutes. Tell the doctor s/he may have to talk you through it, Feeling like someone understands your pain makes such a difference.

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Oct 5, 2017 07:44AM djmammo wrote:


It's unfortunately a universal problem and varies somewhat with the manufacturer of the breast coil. The depth and shape of the wells that contain the breasts during the exam insure that the entire breast and a portion of the chest wall are included in the image. Adding padding would pull the breast up and out of the well which may cause the posterior portions of the breast to be excluded from the images. The amount of discomfort also varies with the shape of the patient's rib cage and the relative position of the sternum.

Considering the long acquisition time, and even longer times for biopsies, MRI breast coils need to be redesigned from scratch with patient comfort in mind.

Board Certified Diagnostic Radiologist specializing in Breast Imaging helping members understand their health care provider's reports and recommendations.
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Oct 7, 2017 02:08PM Simbobby wrote:

Failed again. The MRI was rescheduled to yesterday. (Friday) I had to cancel.

The pain from Wednesday's incident continued to worsen and I awoke Friday morning with what felt like internal bruising on my rib cage and it hurt when I moved. I took the muscle relaxer at the nurses recommendation which eliminated the pain when I moved but still hurt when I pressed on the area. There was no way I could endure the pain of my full body weight on that area for any length of time.

So, they have decided to forego the baseline MRI and proceed with chemo treatment. I start Monday.

I am disappointed in myself that I couldn't complete this procedure but perhaps this could have all been avoided if I had been better prepared. I just never anticipated this cramping problem or the aftermath

Dx 9/15/2017, IDC, Right, 6cm+, Stage IIIB, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Chemotherapy 10/9/2017 AC + T (Taxol) Surgery 3/29/2018 Lymph node removal: Right, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right Dx 4/3/2018, Right, 24/26 nodes Hormonal Therapy 4/9/2018 Femara (letrozole) Radiation Therapy Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall
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Oct 12, 2017 10:47AM Ducati wrote:

I had a mammogram 2 days ago. I had severe pain during test, almost cried out loud. I have been in non stop pain for 2 days. My sternum feels likes its broken and with every deep breath I have unbearable pain

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Oct 12, 2017 10:59AM ysi wrote:

I am surprised they can't figure out a way to share the weight-load across several points on the body-pelvis pad, shoulder pads-or do they already do that? Isn't that the principle behind a bed of nails-the more nails the less weight on each nail?

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Oct 13, 2017 07:10AM Simbobby wrote:

I am now on day ten of treating this pain from the MRI. As ONC recommended, I am alternating heat and ice and alternating Aleve and Xtra strength Tylenol.

I am 63 years old and I'm sure my limited flexibility and old bones contributed to this injury but I wish someone had warned me. Never again!

Dx 9/15/2017, IDC, Right, 6cm+, Stage IIIB, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Chemotherapy 10/9/2017 AC + T (Taxol) Surgery 3/29/2018 Lymph node removal: Right, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right Dx 4/3/2018, Right, 24/26 nodes Hormonal Therapy 4/9/2018 Femara (letrozole) Radiation Therapy Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall
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Nov 3, 2017 08:14PM Buffyb wrote:

Hi, I had a breast MRI on Wed. And it is now Friday night. No one told me a thing so o did not know what to expect.

My rib cage on the right side is extremely sore and has gotten worse since the procedure. I cannot take a full breath with out a lot of pain. And that’s not good as I Have COPD and on O2.

There was NO PADDING ON THE CAGE and no support at all under my ribs or stomach so all the weight was on my rib cage. My arms were extended straight out above me head And elevated about 4” putting further pressure in my ribs. I asked for some padding and Support for under my ribs down to me stomach. Nope can’t do that it interferes with the coils. I told them I needed to change the position of my right arm as I was in treatment for an injury. Nope can’t do that.

So I bit the bullet and continued, the first thirty minutes were barely tolerable, but I made it thru it.

The next thirty minutes quickly went down hill. I told the operator I was in increasing pain in my shoulder and rib cage on the right. If you want to stop we can but it willl have to start over. At about 40 minutes total they injected the contrast. Afew minutes later my shoulder started to cramp and spasm but with the prospect of starting over I simpered thru it. Then the spasm and sharp pain in my ribs just below my right breast started. Crying I continued on to the end.

I had to have the nurse dress me. There was no button to press, just the speaker to the operator who didn’t care if it hurt or not. The staff was more concerned with the fact that Doc’s don’t repare patients for the procedure.

I am on my 2nd full day on pain Meds, icing and heat and expect the same for tomorrow and the next day.

I was looking for info on Pain and found this group. Everything I read about MRI’s of this type say a breeze no pain etc. they lied.

Thank you so much for listening to me vent. And I pray for good outcomes for all of you.😘🍓❤️

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Nov 3, 2017 08:52PM Simbobby wrote:

Oh Buffy -

I'm so sorry. In reading your post I felt like I was living that nightmare all over again.

My cramping and seizing started 6 mins into the procedure and the pain was intolerable. I had to press the call button and stop the procedure. It took about three weeks to recover from the pain but it feels alright now.

The tech said she had never seen this before - BS! (And I don't mean Breast Surgeon)

Now I have no baseline MRI to measure the tumor shrinkage during chemo but there was just no way.

Cudos to you for powering through it. I hope you feel better soon

Dx 9/15/2017, IDC, Right, 6cm+, Stage IIIB, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Chemotherapy 10/9/2017 AC + T (Taxol) Surgery 3/29/2018 Lymph node removal: Right, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right Dx 4/3/2018, Right, 24/26 nodes Hormonal Therapy 4/9/2018 Femara (letrozole) Radiation Therapy Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall
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Nov 4, 2017 06:26AM djmammo wrote:

***Pre and post adjuvent therapy imaging can be done by ultrasound if you cannot tolerate an MRI. I have had to do this a few times over the years. Not as accurate but better than no imaging for this.

Board Certified Diagnostic Radiologist specializing in Breast Imaging helping members understand their health care provider's reports and recommendations.
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Nov 7, 2017 06:29PM Buffyb wrote:

Hi this is I probably too late but go somewhere else. My friend who is a BC Survivor said that her doctor said not to go to our local Hospital, our only choice. She sends her patients out of the county to Modesto.  Ours is a rural county and we are held hostage to an extent by a church hospital that controls it all. 

Hugs to you😘😘🍓🍓❤️

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Nov 7, 2017 06:32PM Buffyb wrote:

Body pelvis pad?  I didn’t have one

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Nov 7, 2017 06:49PM Buffyb wrote:

Ties Nov 7 

Yesterday was 6 Days post MRI. And I spent yesterday afternoon and evening at the ER of the hospital that did my MRI  trying to get some relief from the pain I have been in for a WEEK as of today.  

 Discharge diagnosis: Rib pain on Ry side aka Chest contusion 

Treatment : 1 lidocaine patch,  script for baclofen 10mg tab, take 1/2 3x a day.  And an Incentive Spirometer to Keep lungs clear.  

This morning I wok u in intense pain when I move  and have some clicks? Or crackles in my ribs.  Getting all me records tomorrow and trying to figure what to do.  I am all ready in slow mode because of COPD. But now I can’t do anything. 

Thanks All 😘😘❤️❤️🍓

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Feb 22, 2018 07:58PM linann01 wrote:

I just had my first breast MRI today. It was so incredibly painful to lie on that table for the 40 minute scan. I felt like I was being a total baby when I felt pain in my sternum no matter how many times they tried to rearrange me. In addition to the pain of something pressing into my chest, I felt like my head was going to explode by the end. I am dealing now this evening with terrible pain in my chest. I feel like I have a broken rib or other injury. I cannot take a deep breath and getting up and down is very painful. No one prepped me for any of this!

How dare they allow me to feel so humiliated thinking I was alone in feeling such terrible discomfort! Thank you to all of you for sharing your experiences, it helps so much not to feel all alone!

Now the wait begins, I do not want to go through the pain of more biopsies, they're even worse! Curious how many may have had false positive results, that scares me!

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Feb 22, 2018 09:06PM Veeder14 wrote:

Hi linann01,

Sorry to hear your in so much pain. The same thing happened to me with my first breast MRI. I have long standing spine/neck problems so the pain was almost unbearable. For a few minutes, ok but 45 minutes, ugh. Unfortunately, I've had several more MRI's since and I started bringing my own strips of memory foam to put on that plastic thing you lean your ribs on. Plus, I have the radiologist put pillows on the main portion of the table. All of that helps a lot but still I'm sure I had bruised ribs and horrible neck/back pain. Try and rest tonight and use ice or heat which ever feels better. I had to go see my PT after every MRI to get pain relief. I hope your results are benign.

Dx 1/2/2018, ILC, Left, <1cm, Stage IB, Grade 1, 0/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 1/26/2018 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Radiation Therapy 3/8/2018
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Feb 24, 2018 08:13PM linann01 wrote:

Thank you for your kind words and support Veeder14. Hoping as well that they do not identify any additional tumors. I'm sorry to hear you have had to endure multiple MRI's, not sure I would agree to another. I'm sorry for all the woman who are forced to experience the trauma and painful treatments for breast cancer. There does need to be another way!

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Mar 22, 2018 07:33PM pingpong wrote:

Thank you to everyone who posted here about MRI experience and pain. My MRI was Sunday, it wasn't too bad, in fact, I fell asleep for part of the procedure. I was disoriented (needed help getting up and to dressing room and back to waiting room) after the procedure. I also felt stiff. Since Monday afternoon I have not been able to breathe without right rib cage pain. I can 'lift' the muscles away from the rib cage and get some relief. The muscles are super touch sensitive, and breathing is rough. This is my second MRI (same hospital, same techs as a year ago) and I am amazed at the different response my body is going through. Tired from the pain, glad for the info posted here, it's validating and 'normalizing' to read of others' experiences. I'm hoping for an all better within the next day or two. It's Thursday night, and I want to sing in choir on Sunday!

Dx 12/28/2011, DCIS, 2cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Surgery 1/25/2012 Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left Surgery 9/25/2012 Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right)
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Mar 24, 2018 11:07AM Bcky wrote:

I had terrible pain during my chest MRI. I am glad to know that other people felt it too. I thought I was being childish or worse there was something wrong. Cancer can grow along the sternum. My sternum hurt so bad. It was really awful being in the machine so long. I was clear before I went into the MRI that I was in pain. Nothing was done. It felt like all my body weight was on that tiny hard piece of plastic that my sternum rested on. Hurt for days afterward. I wish the tech had told me that that was a fairly common experience.

Dx 10/9/2014, DCIS, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 1, 1/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 10/9/2014, IDC, 1cm, Grade 3, 1/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 10/30/2014 Lumpectomy: Left Dx 10/31/2014, ILC, 1cm, Grade 2, 1/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 1/9/2015 Mastectomy: Left Hormonal Therapy 2/1/2015 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 6/15/2015 Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement Surgery 10/9/2015 Reconstruction (left): Saline implant; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting Surgery 1/10/2016 Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Surgery 1/10/2017 Reconstruction (left): Nipple tattoo
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Mar 24, 2018 01:15PM Recap wrote:

I desperately want one (financial reasons) now and can't get anyone to order it yet.

Which sounds crazy given I am 5'11" 250lbs over 60 with bad shoulders (which ticks off every box on the pain list!)

But I am glad to read these stories ahead of time and determined to grind thru it once I am scheduled-I just hope I have insurance by then.

Apparently I have to wait 6mos from my biopsy even though I am already at 6mos from my limited imaging which did not include MRI.

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Mar 30, 2018 01:48PM Recap wrote:

Happy days-just received a msg about scheduling an MRI. Also appt with the ARNP for results. I called to schedule but they didn't follow through with the computer order so the scheduler will call me back. Relieved to be moving forward. I think I will buy some memory foam this weekend ;-)

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Apr 7, 2018 10:23AM Recap wrote:

Has anyone ever had a breast MRI on their back? My appointment letter says I should be prepared to lay on my back for an hour. I suspect they have just one form letter no matter what type of MRI but just wondered-especially since I ended up sitting for my core biopsy (a pleasant surprise.)

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Apr 7, 2018 12:25PM djmammo wrote:


Lying on one's back would defeat the design of the breast MRI. The breasts must "fill" the coils in order to obtain an image. I cannot think of a way to do that supine, but I am not an engineer.

Board Certified Diagnostic Radiologist specializing in Breast Imaging helping members understand their health care provider's reports and recommendations.
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Apr 17, 2018 12:45PM - edited Apr 17, 2018 12:53PM by Recap

Thank you, it did turn out to be a form letter and I was on my stomach. Compared to my shoulders mri, this mri machine was enormous-plenty of room with no constriction of body.

Getting on that oddly shaped table was a bit like climbing on a bicycle and doing pushups.

If you remember the old boxing movies from the 40's 50's, my face (forehead-cheekbones-chin) was encased in a boxing mask of cushioned pads, which did flex my head/neck slightly backwards. My feet dangled off the end of the table (I think!)

Interestingly, I believe due to the length of my breasts hanging down, they kept raising ME higher and higher, with custom-shaped cushions (pink lol), the same shape as the hard plastic bridge people have describe as non-padded, that their sternum painfully rested on. They also had my stomach on cushions which created an odd sensation that my pulse was pounding in my stomach. After a while, they came in and repositioned the stomach cushions because they could not get good images. So after repositioning they started all over.

At the very end was when they flowed the contrast thru my IV-honestly could not tell anything different. Very tiny IV, tiny tube, no pain or temp sensation.

When it was over the more experienced tech apologized and said something about the drs having difficulty getting what they needed due to fat and they did the best they could. I didn't ask her if she was calling me fat, but of the many sounds that machine made, one sound was a repetitious Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha :-) I will find my report most interesting/possibly disappointing.

I checked in at 430pm and left at 655pm. I loved the evening time-they were the night shift coming in fresh, free from the stressful daytime hustle and bustle.

I should add that I never spoke the entire length of the imaging, other than to answer a direct question, nor did I move even a fraction of an inch, other than inhale/exhale/swallow (I did wonder if dental suction could prevent even the swallowing lol.)

I was quite stiff when it was over and getting off that table was something like a gymnastic dismount! A Hoyer lift would have been great.

(Oh-ladies-bring a pair of elastic waist stretchy shorts like those Danskin grey cotton ones from Walmart-just make sure there are no metal gromets snaps string ends on them. Mine were light-weight ankle length-perfect for that table and for warmth. They put you in an upper gown with a lower sheet to wrap around you. I am not bashful but appreciated skipping the sheet-too much hassle-and I removed the upper gown before we began and just had the girls throw it over the top of me-less restricting for the arms stretched over the head.)

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Apr 17, 2018 01:10PM - edited Apr 17, 2018 06:52PM by chronicpain

I tried very hard to “assume the postion" for a bilateral MRI before my surgery, as I have dense breast tissue and my BC wanted to make sure they had not missed a spot of BC.

I did not expect problems and was relaxed because I have no claustrophobia and had had prior MRIs of knee and head without difficulty and have no contrast problems.

But this was something else — we had to stop trying after 20 min of torture, and because I am used to chronic pain, I can endure a lot, My body muscles were too weak to do the pushups to get into position, (many years of prednisone) and I have chronic chest wall and shoulder pain with mere touch from my autoimmune problems ( have not been able to wear a bar for ten years, due to pressure) . So the hard metal pressing was intolerable. I told them we needed to stop as I was getting dizzy and ready to pass out.

After a decade of autoimmune problems, Dx 10/2017 at age 63, IDC, Left, 9mm, Oncotype 13, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-, 11/22/2017 Lumpectomy, Arimidex. Declined radiation.
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Apr 18, 2018 05:32AM djmammo wrote:

"Getting on that oddly shaped table was a bit like climbing on a bicycle and doing pushups."

This is possibly the best description I have heard to date.

Board Certified Diagnostic Radiologist specializing in Breast Imaging helping members understand their health care provider's reports and recommendations.
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Apr 18, 2018 05:11PM Prairiedog wrote:

Thank you for sharing all of your experiences with MRI. I had my bilateral MRI this afternoon and it was much more difficult than I had expected. Since I am a bicyclist and do push-ups I managed to get on the table fairly easily. Happy Things were going OK until the contrast went into the IV. It was an interesting sensation and I could feel it flowing up my arm and then I could feel a sensation in my mouth. My sinuses began to fill up and I had an uncontrollable urge to sneeze. I fought the sneeze but it won. After three semi aborted sneezes the urge to sneeze went away but now my sinuses were in full flow mode. I wondered if I was having an allergic reaction to the contrast stuff but since I did not want to redo this imaging I moved into endurance mode and made it through to the end. But as I walKed out to my car I sure wished I had asked my husband to be my driver. I drove carefully home

Dx 3/1999, LCIS/ILC, Left, 1cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 0/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Dx 4/11/2018, ILC, Right, 1cm, Stage IB, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 5/3/2018 Lumpectomy: Right
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Apr 19, 2018 06:52AM Recap wrote:

Prairiedog-I noticed a steady stream of oxygen began blowing at my face early on and seemed to be aimed at one nostril lol which created an overwhelming urge to itch my nose, but I endured as well. Also, they put this squeeze bulb in your hands, which are over your head, which apparently is an emergency squeeze alert. By the end of my mri I had no idea whether I had dropped the ball lol because my hands were completely dead-not numb not tingly just completely dead-wasn't sure I still had hands on.

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Apr 28, 2018 03:25PM - edited Apr 29, 2018 03:07PM by Recap

I finally found time to look at my MRI images, then of course I googled breast mri images to compare. I get the impression that, like fingerprints, all of our breasts are unique. The image that shows my blood supply was what I was curious about.

When I look at the image (looks just like those u-shaped neck pillows) the breast on the left, extending upward on the picture, is apparently my right breast dangling downward. (Ok, mentally adjusting to upside down inside out?)

So my right breast on the left lol had a strong blood supply along the outer edge of the breast, but not really much of anything visible on the inner sternum side of the same breast where my symptoms/lump/biopsy were-wondering if the inner side is more fatty and MRI didn't capture it as well or if it is just my fingerprint? Some MRI images on the internet show a very methodical map of vessels thru-out the breasts.

There was a black, waterstain if you will, on the inner side of the same breast, up by the arreola where the core bx needle was inserted. Since this MRI was 2mos after my biopsy, would there still be blood there, or is that just old blood/scar tissue/scab/dyed tissue?

Meanwhile on the right side of the picture, my left breast showed a strong blood supply also, but it was only on the inner side of the breast. I assume because heart is on the left. p.s. is there any statistics on breast lumps/cancers by side of the body? (I realize there are statistics for each quadrant of a breast.)

At the base of each breast on the outer corner of each (bottom of the picture with chest wall being the end of the picture) there is an area where blood supply lines converge apparently. Mine, to me, were a little bit foggy like a loose blood blur might be. Images on the internet show some breasts with very well defined terminals/branches, if you will, at that location. Age, maybe? I do have a high calcium score and the usual high blood pressure and cholesterol issues and family history that go with it.

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Apr 30, 2018 11:23PM Bb4th wrote:

I am sorry to hear about these bad experiences. I just had my first MRI and the tech was so nice and while it was awkward to stay that way for 20 minutes the padding helped my sternum. I am overweight w large breasts as well but it wasn't bad. This MRI place was across the hall from a breast care center so perhaps they do them more often. My results were negative which was good.

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