Importance of the choice of the collimator for the detection of small lesions in scintimammography: a phantom study

Phys Med Biol. 2001 May;46(5):1343-55. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/46/5/301.


99mTc methoxyisobutylisonitrile planar scintimammography (SMM) is mostly performed using low-energy high-resolution (LEHR) parallel collimators. We studied whether using a different collimator could improve the detection of small (< 1.5 cm) lesions for which SMM sensitivity is poor. Thirty four breast phantom configurations were considered, either with hot spheres simulating lesions or without any spheres. For each configuration, four planar acquisitions were performed using LEHR, low-energy ultra high-resolution (LEUHR), high-resolution fan-beam (HRFB) and ultra high-resolution fan-beam (UHRFB) collimators. Images corresponding to the 20% and 10% energy windows and to the Jaszczak subtraction were calculated. A database including 156 borderline images was derived. After training, 10 observers scored the images for the presence of a sphere. The performances in sphere detection were studied using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis. For all types of image, the area under the ROC curve was highest with the UHRFB collimator and lowest with either the LEUHR or the HRFB collimator. For the 10% energy window images conventionally used in SMM, the detection sensitivities averaged 91%, 73%, 60% and 55% for the UHRFB, LEHR, HRFB and LEUHR collimators respectively, for the same specificity of 64%. We conclude that detection of small tumours in planar SMM might be significantly improved by using a UHRFB collimator instead of an LEHR collimator.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Mammography
  • Phantoms, Imaging*
  • ROC Curve
  • Radionuclide Imaging / instrumentation
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Technetium Tc 99m Sestamibi*


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Technetium Tc 99m Sestamibi