Digital mammography: effects of reduced radiation dose on diagnostic performance.
PURPOSE: To experimentally determine the relationship between radiation dose and observer accuracy in the detection and discrimination of simulated lesions for digital mammography. MATERIALS AND METHODS: This HIPAA-compliant study received institutional review board approval; the informed consent requirement was waived. Three hundred normal craniocaudal images were selected from an existing database of digital mammograms. Simulated mammographic lesions that mimicked benign and malignant masses and clusters of microcalcifications (3.3-7.4 cm in diameter) were then superimposed on images. Images were rendered without and with added radiographic noise to simulate effects of reducing the radiation dose to one half and one quarter of the clinical dose. Images were read by five experienced breast imaging radiologists. Results were analyzed to determine effects of reduced dose on overall interpretation accuracy, detection of microcalcifications and masses, discrimination between benign and malignant masses, and interpretation time. RESULTS: Overall accuracy decreased from 0.83 with full dose to 0.78 and 0.62 with half and quarter doses, respectively. The decrease associated with transition from full dose to quarter dose was significant (P < .01), primarily because of an effect on detection of microcalcifications (P < .01) and discrimination of masses (P < .05). The level of dose reduction did not significantly affect detection of malignant masses (P > .5). However, reduced dose resulted in an increased mean interpretation time per image by 28% (P < .0001). CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that dose reduction in digital mammography has a measurable but modest effect on diagnostic accuracy. The small magnitude of the effect in response to the drastic reduction of dose suggests potential for modest dose reductions in digital mammography.
Samei, E; Saunders, RS; Baker, JA; Delong, DM
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