Monte Carlo study on optimal breast voxel resolution for dosimetry estimates in digital breast tomosynthesis

Phys Med Biol. 2018 Dec 19;64(1):015003. doi: 10.1088/1361-6560/aaf453.


Digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) is currently used as an adjunct technique to digital mammography (DM) for breast cancer imaging. Being a quasi-3D image, DBT is capable of providing depth information on the internal breast glandular tissue distribution, which may be enough to obtain an accurate patient-specific radiation dose estimate. However, for this, information regarding the location of the glandular tissue, especially in the vertical direction (i.e. x-ray source to detector), is needed. Therefore, a dedicated reconstruction algorithm designed to localize the amount of glandular tissue, rather than for optimal diagnostic value, could be desirable. Such a reconstruction algorithm, or, alternatively, a reconstructed DBT image classification algorithm, could benefit from the use of larger voxels, rather than the small sizes typically used for the diagnostic task. In addition, the Monte Carlo (MC) based dose estimates would be accelerated by the representation of the breast tissue with fewer and larger voxels. Therefore, in this study we investigate the optimal DBT reconstructed voxel size that allows accurate dose evaluations (i.e. within 5%) using a validated Geant4-based MC code. For this, sixty patient-based breast models, previously acquired using dedicated breast computed tomography (BCT) images, were deformed to reproduce the breast during compression under a given DBT scenario. Two re-binning approaches were applied to the compressed phantoms, leading to isotropic and anisotropic voxels of different volumes. MC DBT simulations were performed reproducing the acquisition geometry of a SIEMENS Mammomat Inspiration system. Results show that isotropic cubic voxels of 2.73 mm size provide a dose estimate accurate to within 5% for 51/60 patients, while a comparable accuracy is obtained with anisotropic voxels of dimension 5.46 × 5.46 × 2.73 mm3. In addition, the MC simulation time is reduced by more than half in respect to the original voxel dimension of 0.273 × 0.273 × 0.273 mm3 when either of the proposed re-binning approaches is used. No significant differences in the effect of binning on the dose estimates are observed (Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test, p-value > 0.4) between the 0° the 23° (i.e. the widest angular range) exposure.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Breast / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Mammography*
  • Monte Carlo Method*
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Radiometry / methods*