Agreement of mammographic measures of volumetric breast density to MRI

PLoS One. 2013 Dec 4;8(12):e81653. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081653. eCollection 2013.


Background: Clinical scores of mammographic breast density are highly subjective. Automated technologies for mammography exist to quantify breast density objectively, but the technique that most accurately measures the quantity of breast fibroglandular tissue is not known.

Purpose: To compare the agreement of three automated mammographic techniques for measuring volumetric breast density with a quantitative volumetric MRI-based technique in a screening population.

Materials and methods: Women were selected from the UCSF Medical Center screening population that had received both a screening MRI and digital mammogram within one year of each other, had Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) assessments of normal or benign finding, and no history of breast cancer or surgery. Agreement was assessed of three mammographic techniques (Single-energy X-ray Absorptiometry [SXA], Quantra, and Volpara) with MRI for percent fibroglandular tissue volume, absolute fibroglandular tissue volume, and total breast volume.

Results: Among 99 women, the automated mammographic density techniques were correlated with MRI measures with R(2) values ranging from 0.40 (log fibroglandular volume) to 0.91 (total breast volume). Substantial agreement measured by kappa statistic was found between all percent fibroglandular tissue measures (0.72 to 0.63), but only moderate agreement for log fibroglandular volumes. The kappa statistics for all percent density measures were highest in the comparisons of the SXA and MRI results. The largest error source between MRI and the mammography techniques was found to be differences in measures of total breast volume.

Conclusion: Automated volumetric fibroglandular tissue measures from screening digital mammograms were in substantial agreement with MRI and if associated with breast cancer could be used in clinical practice to enhance risk assessment and prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast / pathology*
  • Breast Density
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Mammary Glands, Human / abnormalities*
  • Mammary Glands, Human / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results