Evaluation of the ultrasonic detectability of microcalcifications
Microcalcifications are small crystals of calcium apatites which form in human tissue through a number of mechanisms. The size, morphology, and distribution of microcalcifications are important indicators in the mammographic screening for and diagnosis of various carcinomas in the breast. Though x-ray mammography is currently the only accepted method for detecting microcalcifications, its efficacy in this regard can be reduced in the presence of dense parenchyma. Current ultrasound scanners are not capable of detecting microcalcifications in the size range of clinical interest. We present methods for estimating the changes in microcalcification detection performance which result from changes in aperture geometry or the presence of an aberrator. We present an analysis of the relative efficacy of spatial compounding and synthetic receive aperture geometries in the detection of microcalcifications. We present a preliminary analysis estimating the impact of phase aberration on detection. We present registered high resolution ultrasound and digital spot mammography images of microcalcifications in excised breast carcinoma tissue.