An analysis of the mechanical parameters used for finite element compression of a high-resolution 3D breast phantom.
PURPOSE: The authors previously introduced a methodology to generate a realistic three-dimensional (3D), high-resolution, computer-simulated breast phantom based on empirical data. One of the key components of such a phantom is that it provides a means to produce a realistic simulation of clinical breast compression. In the current study, they have evaluated a finite element (FE) model of compression and have demonstrated the effect of a variety of mechanical properties on the model using a dense mesh generated from empirical breast data. While several groups have demonstrated an effective compression simulation with lower density finite element meshes, the presented study offers a mesh density that is able to model the morphology of the inner breast structures more realistically than lower density meshes. This approach may prove beneficial for multimodality breast imaging research, since it provides a high level of anatomical detail throughout the simulation study. METHODS: In this paper, the authors describe methods to improve the high-resolution performance of a FE compression model. In order to create the compressible breast phantom, dedicated breast CT data was segmented and a mesh was generated with 4-noded tetrahedral elements. Using an explicit FE solver to simulate breast compression, several properties were analyzed to evaluate their effect on the compression model including: mesh density, element type, density, and stiffness of various tissue types, friction between the skin and the compression plates, and breast density. Following compression, a simulated projection was generated to demonstrate the ability of the compressible breast phantom to produce realistic simulated mammographic images. RESULTS: Small alterations in the properties of the breast model can change the final distribution of the tissue under compression by more than 1 cm; which ultimately results in different representations of the breast model in the simulated images. The model properties that impact displacement the most are mesh density, friction between the skin and the plates, and the relative stiffness of the different tissue types. CONCLUSIONS: The authors have developed a 3D, FE breast model that can yield high spatial resolution breast deformations under uniaxial compression for imaging research purposes and demonstrated that small changes in the mechanical properties can affect images generated using the phantom.
Hsu, CML; Palmeri, ML; Segars, WP; Veress, AI; Dobbins, JT
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