Digital Breast Tomosynthesis in the Diagnostic Setting: Indications and Clinical Applications

Radiographics. Jul-Aug 2015;35(4):975-90. doi: 10.1148/rg.2015140204. Epub 2015 May 29.


Digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) is an emerging technology used in diagnostic breast imaging to evaluate potential abnormalities. In DBT, the compressed breast tissue is imaged in a quasi-three-dimensional manner by performing a series of low-dose radiographic exposures and using the resultant projection image dataset to reconstruct cross-sectional in-plane images in standard mammographic views. Improved visualization of breast detail at diagnostic DBT allows improved characterization of findings, including normal structures and breast cancer. This technology reduces the summation of overlapping breast tissue, which can mimic breast cancer, and provides improved detail of noncalcified mammographic findings seen in breast cancer. It also assists in lesion localization and determining mammographic extent of disease in women with known or suspected breast cancer. The authors review the potential uses, benefits, and limitations of DBT in the diagnostic setting and discuss how radiologists can best use DBT to characterize lesions, localize potential abnormalities, and evaluate the extent of known or suspected breast cancer. The authors' experience shows that DBT can be implemented effectively in the diagnostic workflow to evaluate and localize potential lesions more efficiently. DBT may potentially replace conventional supplemental mammography at diagnostic workup and obviate ultrasonography in select cases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Mammography / methods*
  • Radiographic Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity