Reliability of automated breast density measurements

Radiology. 2015 May;275(2):366-76. doi: 10.1148/radiol.15141686. Epub 2015 Feb 25.


Purpose: To estimate the reliability of a reference standard two-dimensional area-based method and three automated volumetric breast density measurements by using repeated measures.

Materials and methods: Thirty women undergoing screening mammography consented to undergo a repeated left craniocaudal examination performed by a second technologist in this prospective institutional review board-approved HIPAA-compliant study. Breast density was measured by using an area-based method (Cumulus ABD) and three automated volumetric methods (CumulusV [University of Toronto], Volpara [version 1.4.5; Volpara Solutions, Wellington, New Zealand), and Quantra [version 2.0; Hologic, Danbury, Conn]). Discrepancy between the first and second breast density measurements (Δ1-2) was obtained for each algorithm by subtracting the second measurement from the first. The Δ1-2 values of each algorithm were then analyzed with a random-effects model to derive Bland-Altman-type limits of measurement agreement.

Results: Variability was higher for Cumulus ABD and CumulusV than for Volpara or Quantra. The within-breast density measurement standard deviations were 3.32% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.65, 4.44), 3.59% (95% CI: 2.86, 4.48), 0.99% (95% CI: 0.79, 1.33), and 1.64% (95% CI: 1.31, 1.39) for Cumulus ABD, CumulusV, Volpara, and Quantra, respectively. Although the mean discrepancy between repeat breast density measurements was not significantly different from zero for any of the algorithms, larger absolute breast density discrepancy (Δ1-2) values were associated with larger breast density values for Cumulus ABD and CumulusV but not for Volpara and Quantra.

Conclusion: Variability in a repeated measurement of breast density is lowest for Volpara and Quantra; these algorithms may be more suited to incorporation into a risk model.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Algorithms
  • Breast / pathology*
  • Electronic Data Processing
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Software