Mammography images undergo vendor-specific processing, which may be nonlinear, before radiologist interpretation. Therefore, to test the entire imaging chain, the effect of image processing should be included in the assessment of image quality, which is not current practice. For this purpose, model observers (MOs), in combination with anthropomorphic breast phantoms, are proposed to evaluate image quality in mammography. In this study, the nonprewhitening MO with eye filter and the channelized Hotelling observer were investigated. The goal of this study was to optimize the efficiency of the procedure to obtain the expected signal template from acquired images for the detection of a 0.25-mm diameter disk. Two approaches were followed: using acquired images with homogeneous backgrounds (approach 1) and images from an anthropomorphic breast phantom (approach 2). For quality control purposes, a straightforward procedure using a single exposure of a single disk was found adequate for both approaches. However, only approach 2 can yield templates from processed images since, due to its nonlinearity, image postprocessing cannot be evaluated using images of homogeneous phantoms. Based on the results of the current study, a phantom should be designed, which can be used for the objective assessment of image quality.
Keywords: channelized Hotelling observer; image quality; mammography; model observers; nonprewhitening model observer; template.