Ex Vivo Study of Artifacts Caused by Breast Tissue Markers with Different 1.5 Tesla and 3 Tesla MRI Scanners - A Bicentric Study

Acad Radiol. 2021 Jan;28(1):77-84. doi: 10.1016/j.acra.2019.12.006. Epub 2020 Jan 31.


Rationale and objectives: The purpose of our study was to evaluate magnetic resonance (MR) artifacts related to breast tissue markers in breast imaging procedures.

Materials and methods: In this bicentric prospective ex vivo study 10 different commercially available markers were measured in self-made breast phantoms. Breast tissue markers varying in marker size, composition, and shape were evaluated. MR imaging (MRI) scans were performed on 1.5 Tesla (T) and 3 T scanners from 2 different vendors, using dedicated breast coils. Three different sequences (T1-weighted images with and without fat saturation, T2-weighted images) were acquired in axial and coronal view. Three blinded readers electronically measured the artifact length.

Results: All markers caused artifacts in MRI. The largest median artifact length was 10.4 mm, interquartile range (IQR 9.4-11.0 mm), the smallest 4.8 mm (IQR 4.5-5.2 mm). Relative artifact length (quotient artifact length in mm/real physical length of the marker) ranged between 0.9 (IQR 0.9-1.2) and 3.0 (IQR 2.8-3.4). Mean artifact length was higher for metallic markers (10.2 mm; IQR 8.7-11.5 mm) compared to metallic markers with nonmetallic coating (7.7 mm; IQR 6.3-10.2 mm) and nonmetallic marker (7.6 mm; IQR 5.9-10.0 mm); all p < 0.0001. Artifact size was higher in coronal in comparison to axial view; p < 0.05. The results were comparable between the different field strengths, the sites and sequences; p > 0.05. Interobserver agreement was excellent (ntraclass correlation coefficient = 0.83).

Conclusion: Artifacts are necessary in the detection and localization of breast tissue markers, but could also limit the interpretation of MRI due to the possibility of masking the residual tumor after biopsy. This artifact size varies among the different clips evaluated. It depends on marker composition and scan direction but is not influenced by image sequence, field strength or scanner type.

Keywords: Artifacts; Breast; Magnetic resonance imaging; Markers; Phantoms.

MeSH terms

  • Artifacts*
  • Breast / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Prospective Studies