Breast MR Positioning: Effect on Image Quality

Suggestions and techniques for improved patient positioning in breast MR imaging are presented.

Course ID: Q00428 Category:
Modalities: ,


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Targeted CE per ARRT’s Discipline, Category, and Subcategory classification:

Mammography: 2.50
Procedures: 2.50
Mammographic Positioning, Special Needs, and Imaging Procedures: 2.50

Magnetic Resonance Imaging: 2.50
Procedures: 2.50
Body: 2.50


  1. Introduction
  2. Positioning in Breast MR Imaging
    1. Use of Dedicated Breast MR Imaging Technologists
    2. Review of Prior Images
    3. Coil Setup
    4. Technique of Positioning the Patient in the Coil
      1. Guide the Patient into the Coil and Center the Breasts over the Center Bar
      2. Check Breast Position from the Lateral, Medial, and Top-Down Positions
      3. Repeat the Positioning Check with the Other Breast
    5. Position the Nipple in Profile
    6. Check the Triplane Localizer Images
  3. Artifacts Due to Improper Positioning and Their Causes
    1. Poor Superior Positioning
    2. Poor Fat Suppression
    3. Poor Medial Positioning
    4. Skin Folds
    5. Large Breasts
    6. Inferior Bulge
    7. Fat Saturation Pad
    8. Prior Surgery
    9. Implants
  4. Missed Cancer Due to Poor Positioning
  5. Pseudo Cancer Due to Improper Positioning
  6. Effect of Arm Position
  7. Positioning for MR Imaging-guided Procedures
    1. Review of Prior Diagnostic Images
    2. Using Padding to Roll the Patient
    3. Using Sponges to Bolster Breast Tissue
    4. Raising the Grid to Access Posterior Lesions
    5. Awareness of Altered Landmarks
  8. Examples of Difficult Access during MR Imaging-guided Intervention
    1. Core Biopsy of a Far Posterior Mass
    2. Wire Localization of an Axillary Mass
    3. Biopsy of Patients with Implants
    4. Biopsy of Medial Lesions
  9. Conclusion


Upon completion of this course, students will:

  1. know the most common reason for accreditation failure in mammography
  2. be able to list reasons for the success of MRI in detecting invasive malignancies of the breast
  3. understand the difficulties of positioning in breast MR imaging compared with other areas of the body
  4. be aware of the effect compression of breast tissue has on the enhancement of malignancies
  5. understand how to position a patient for breast MRI using both hands
  6. know when the sternum should be positioned over the center bar of the breast coil
  7. know the best view for checking that the nipple is in profile
  8. understand the artifact that can result from positioning the breast too far superiorly in the coil
  9. know the appropriate time to deal with skin folds
  10. be aware of artifacts that may be encountered in large-breasted patients
  11. check for abdominal tissue in the breast coil before imaging
  12. know the chemical makeup of the fat saturation pad
  13. know which type of anatomy benefits from the use of fat saturation pads
  14. know which type of fat saturation pad is used for breast imaging
  15. understand how prior surgery or radiation therapy to the breasts can affect breast MRI
  16. know why breast MRI is commonly done with the arms above the head
  17. be aware of the occasions that benefit from positioning the patient with arms at their side
  18. be familiar with lesions that can be accessed better with the patient rolled into an oblique position
  19. know when bolstering can help increase the safety of breast biopsy
  20. describe an approach for biopsy in a patient with implants