Measurement of compressed breast thickness by optical stereoscopic photogrammetry

Med Phys. 2009 Feb;36(2):569-76. doi: 10.1118/1.3065066.


The determination of volumetric breast density (VBD) from mammograms requires accurate knowledge of the thickness of the compressed breast. In attempting to accurately determine VBD from images obtained on conventional mammography systems, the authors found that the thickness reported by a number of mammography systems in the field varied by as much as 15 mm when compressing the same breast or phantom. In order to evaluate the behavior of mammographic compression systems and to be able to predict the thickness at different locations in the breast on patients, they have developed a method for measuring the local thickness of the breast at all points of contact with the compression paddle using optical stereoscopic photogrammetry. On both flat (solid) and compressible phantoms, the measurements were accurate to better than 1 mm with a precision of 0.2 mm. In a pilot study, this method was used to measure thickness on 108 volunteers who were undergoing mammography examination. This measurement tool will allow us to characterize paddle surface deformations, deflections and calibration offsets for mammographic units.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast / anatomy & histology*
  • Calibration
  • Humans
  • Mammography / methods*
  • Optical Devices*
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Photogrammetry / instrumentation*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Sensitivity and Specificity