Homogeneous vs. patient specific breast models for Monte Carlo evaluation of mean glandular dose in mammography

Phys Med. 2018 Jul;51:56-63. doi: 10.1016/j.ejmp.2018.04.392. Epub 2018 Apr 26.


Purpose: To compare, via Monte Carlo simulations, homogeneous and non-homogenous breast models adopted for mean glandular dose (MGD) estimates in mammography vs. patient specific digital breast phantoms.

Methods: We developed a GEANT4 Monte Carlo code simulating four homogenous cylindrical breast models featured as follows: (1) semi-cylindrical section enveloped in a 5-mm adipose layer; (2) semi-elliptical section with a 4-mm thick skin; (3) semi-cylindrical section with a 1.45-mm skin layer; (4) semi-cylindrical section in a 1.45-mm skin layer and 2-mm subcutaneous adipose layer. Twenty patient specific digital breast phantoms produced from a dedicated CT scanner were assumed as reference in the comparison. We simulated two spectra produced from two anode/filter combinations. An additional digital breast phantom was produced via BreastSimulator software.

Results: With reference to the results for patient-specific breast phantoms and for W/Al spectra, models #1 and #3 showed higher MGD values by about 1% (ranges [-33%; +28%] and [-31%; +30%], respectively), while for model #4 it was 2% lower (range [-34%; +26%]) and for model #2 -11% (range [-39%; +14%]), on average. On the other hand, for W/Rh spectra, models #1 and #4 showed lower MGD values by 2% and 1%, while for model #2 and #3 it was 14% and 8% lower, respectively (ranges [-43%; +13%] and [-41%; +21%]). The simulation with the digital breast phantom produced with BreastSimulator showed a MGD overestimation of +33%.

Conclusions: The homogeneous breast models led to maximum MGD underestimation and overestimation of 43% and 28%, respectively, when compared to patient specific breast phantoms derived from clinical CT scans.

Keywords: Breast models; Mammography; Mean glandular dose; Monte Carlo simulations.

MeSH terms

  • Breast / cytology
  • Breast / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Mammography / methods*
  • Monte Carlo Method*
  • Patient-Specific Modeling*
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Radiation Dosage*
  • Software