Association between power law coefficients of the anatomical noise power spectrum and lesion detectability in breast imaging modalities

Lin Chen, Craig K. Abbey, John M Boone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Previous research has demonstrated that a parameter extracted from a power function fit to the anatomical noise power spectrum, β, may be predictive of breast mass lesion detectability in x-ray based medical images of the breast. In this investigation, the value of β was compared with a number of other more widely used parameters, in order to determine the relationship between β and these other parameters. This study made use of breast CT data sets, acquired on two breast CT systems developed in our laboratory. A total of 185 breast data sets in 183 women were used, and only the unaffected breast was used (where no lesion was suspected). The anatomical noise power spectrum computed from two-dimensional region of interests (ROIs), was fit to a power function (NPS(f) = α f), and the exponent parameter (β) was determined using log/log linear regression. Breast density for each of the volume data sets was characterized in previous work. The breast CT data sets analyzed in this study were part of a previous study which evaluated the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve performance using simulated spherical lesions and a pre-whitened matched filter computer observer. This ROC information was used to compute the detectability index as well as the sensitivity at 95% specificity. The fractal dimension was computed from the same ROIs which were used for the assessment of β. The value of β was compared to breast density, detectability index, sensitivity, and fractal dimension, and the slope of these relationships was investigated to assess statistical significance from zero slope. A statistically significant non-zero slope was considered to be a positive association in this investigation. All comparisons between β and breast density, detectability index, sensitivity at 95% specificity, and fractal dimension demonstrated statistically significant association with p < 0.001 in all cases. The value of β was also found to be associated with patient age and breast diameter, parameters both related to breast density. In all associations between other parameters, lower values of β were associated with increased breast cancer detection performance. Specifically, lower values of β were associated with lower breast density, higher detectability index, higher sensitivity, and lower fractal dimension values. While causality was not and probably cannot be demonstrated, the strong, statistically significant association between the β metric and the other more widely used parameters suggest that β may be considered as a surrogate measure for breast cancer detection performance. These findings are specific to breast parenchymal patterns and mass lesions only.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1663-1681
Number of pages19
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 21 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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