Anatomical complexity in breast parenchyma and its implications for optimal breast imaging strategies

Lin Chen, Craig K. Abbey, Anita Nosrateih, Karen K Lindfors, John M Boone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this investigation was to assess the anatomical noise in breast images using a mathematically derived parameter β as a surrogate for detection performance, across the same patient cohort but in different imaging modalities including mammography, tomosynthesis, and breast CT. Methods: Women who were scheduled for breast biopsy were approached for participation in this IRB and HIPPA-compliant investigation. A total of 23 women had all views of each modality and represent the cohort studied in this investigation. Image data sets across all modalities were analyzed using 1000 regions of interest per image data set, and the anatomical noise power spectrum, NPSa(f), was computed and averaged for each breast image data set. After windowing the total noise power spectrum NPSt(f) to a specific frequency range corresponding to anatomical noise, the power-law slope (β) of the NPSa(f) was computed where NPSa(f)= αf . Results: The value of βwas determined for breast CT data sets, and they were 1.75 (0.424), 1.83 (0.352), and 1.79 (0.397), for the coronal, sagittal, and axial views, respectively. For tomosynthesis, βwas 3.06 (0.361) and 3.10 (0.315) for the craniocaudal (CC) and medial lateral oblique (MLO) views, respectively. For mammography, these values were 3.17 (0.226) and 3.30 (0.236), for the CC and MLO views, respectively. The values of βfor breast CT were significantly different than those for tomosynthesis and mammography (p <0.001, all 12 comparisons). Conclusions: Based on the parameterβ which is thought to describe anatomical noise in breast images, breast CT was shown to have a statistically significant lower βthan mammography or tomosynthesis. It has been suggested in the literature that a lower βmay correspond to increased cancer detection performance; however, this has yet to be demonstrated unequivocally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1435-1441
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • breast cancer
  • breast tomosynthesis
  • computed tomography
  • mammography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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