Advancements towards the implementation of clinical phase-contrast breast computed tomography at Elettra

J Synchrotron Radiat. 2019 Jul 1;26(Pt 4):1343-1353. doi: 10.1107/S1600577519005502. Epub 2019 Jun 14.


Breast computed tomography (BCT) is an emerging application of X-ray tomography in radiological practice. A few clinical prototypes are under evaluation in hospitals and new systems are under development aiming at improving spatial and contrast resolution and reducing delivered dose. At the same time, synchrotron-radiation phase-contrast mammography has been demonstrated to offer substantial advantages when compared with conventional mammography. At Elettra, the Italian synchrotron radiation facility, a clinical program of phase-contrast BCT based on the free-space propagation approach is under development. In this paper, full-volume breast samples imaged with a beam energy of 32 keV delivering a mean glandular dose of 5 mGy are presented. The whole acquisition setup mimics a clinical study in order to evaluate its feasibility in terms of acquisition time and image quality. Acquisitions are performed using a high-resolution CdTe photon-counting detector and the projection data are processed via a phase-retrieval algorithm. Tomographic reconstructions are compared with conventional mammographic images acquired prior to surgery and with histologic examinations. Results indicate that BCT with monochromatic beam and free-space propagation phase-contrast imaging provide relevant three-dimensional insights of breast morphology at clinically acceptable doses and scan times.

Keywords: breast CT; free space propagation; phase contrast; single photon counting.

MeSH terms

  • Cadmium Compounds / chemistry
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography / methods*
  • Microscopy, Phase-Contrast / methods*
  • Synchrotrons
  • Tellurium / chemistry
  • X-Ray Microtomography / methods*


  • Cadmium Compounds
  • Tellurium
  • cadmium telluride