3D task-based performance assessment metrics for optimization of performance and dose in breast tomosynthesis
This study aimed to investigate a method for empirically evaluating 3D imaging task performance of breast tomosynthesis imaging systems. A simulation and experimental approach was used to develop a robust method for performance assessment. To identify a method for experimentally assessing the 3D modulation transfer function (MTF), a breast tomosysnthesis system was first simulated using cascaded system analysis to model the signal and noise characteristics of the projections. A range of spheres with varying contrast and size were reconstructed using filtered back projection from which the 3D MTF was evaluated. Results revealed that smaller spheres result in lower artifacts in the measured MTF, where a sphere of 0.5 mm was found ideal for experimental purposes. A clinical tomosynthesis unit was used as a platform for quantifying the effect of acquisition and processing parameters (e.g., angular extent and sampling, dose, and voxel size) on breast imaging performance. The 3D noise-power spectrum (NPS) was measured using a uniform phantom and 3D MTF was measured using 0.5 mm ruby spheres. These metrics were combined with a mathematical description of imaging task to generate a figure of merit called the detectability index for system evaluation and optimization. Clinically relevant imaging tasks were considered, such as the detection and localization of a spherical mass. The detectability index was found to provide a useful metric that accounts for the complex 3D imaging characteristics of breast tomosynthesis. Results highlighted the dependence of optimal technique on the imaging task. They further provided initial validation of an empirically assessed figure of merit for clinical performance assessment and optimization of breast tomosynthesis systems. © 2011 SPIE.
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