Contact details

St. James’s Private Radiology
James's St, Dublin 8

T: (01) 416 2703 / (01) 428 4950
F: (01) 473 0425 / (01) 416 2357


Opening Times:
Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm 


Breast Imaging


Information for Doctors

A comprehensive range of breast imaging can be performed ranging from initial assessment with a Mammogram through to breast MRI and biopsy. St James’s Private Radiology supports one of the largest triple assessment breast clinics in Ireland and the breast imaging for the National Hereditary Cancer centre. There are 4 breast radiologists, Dr Ronan McDermott, Dr Susannah Harte, Dr Sylvia O’Keeffe and Dr Graham Wilson who are subspecialty trained in breast imaging and accredited by the Faculty of Radiologists. The imaging findings will be discussed with patients and rapid referral to our breast surgeons can be done if required. Most breast procedures are directly covered by the insurance providers.

Information for Patients

Your doctor will refer you for breast imaging to further assess your symptoms (such as breast pain, a lump and nipple discharge). Many breast conditions can be accurately assessed with imaging alone however certain conditions may also require a biopsy. All of your imaging is reported by a Consultant Radiologist who can discuss any findings with you and give advice about further management. St James’s hospital has a large breast service and any patients can be rapidly referred to it if required. Patient preparation is not required for most types of breast imaging. To make an appointment please see our contacts section.


Most appointments can be facilitated within 3 days of the request. A referral letter from your doctor is required at the time of the scan unless otherwise instructed. To make an appointment please see our contact section.

 Types of Breast Imaging



A diagnostic mammogram is an x-ray examination of the breast in a woman who has a new breast symptom (for example, a breast lump, nipple discharge, etc.). During a mammogram, performed by a specialist mammographers, four standard pictures are taken, two of each breast. Occasionally extra views are performed to carefully study an area of concern. All mammograms are reported by a consultant breast radiologist.

Breast ultrasound

Ultrasound provides an excellent real-time assessment of the anatomy of the breast. It is performed by the radiologist as an additional test to support mammography or as an alternative to mammography in patients younger than 35. Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to look inside a part of the body. A handheld probe is placed on the skin which transmits sound waves through the breast producing a black and white picture that is shown on a computer screen. This test is painless and does not expose you to radiation.

Breast MRI

For a small percentage of women at a high risk for breast cancer development, screening Breast MRI is recommended along with a yearly mammogram High risk generally refers to women who have at least two close relatives with breast cancer. MRI is also used to assess certain breast cancers in more detail, to assess breast implants and in specific cases for MRI guided breast biopsy.

MRI scans use magnets and radio waves instead of x-rays to produce very detailed, cross-sectional pictures of the body. Breast MRI exams for breast imaging use a contrast material (called gadolinium) that is injected into a vein in the arm before or during the exam. This improves the ability of the MRI to clearly show breast tissue. St James’s has the biggest MRI service in Ireland and has one of the few MRI guided biopsy systems.

Breast Biopsy

Breast Biopsies can be performed under ultrasound, stereotactic or MRI guidance. 

A suspicious area in the breast may be found by physical exam, mammogram or another imaging method, or by a combination of these. For definitive diagnosis a biopsy is often required. This means a sample of cells or tissue is removed and looked at under a microscope.

There are several types of breast biopsies:

  1. Fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy uses a very thin, hollow needle to remove fluid and tiny bits of tissue.
  2. Core needle biopsy (CNB) uses a slightly larger needle to remove a piece of tissue about 1/16-inch in diameter and ½ inch long.
  3. Vacuum assisted biopsy can remove larger areas of tissue under local anaesthesia.