Dataset of patient-derived digital breast phantoms for in silico studies in breast computed tomography, digital breast tomosynthesis, and digital mammography

Antonio Sarno, Giovanni Mettivier, Francesca di Franco, Antonio Varallo, Kristina Bliznakova, Andrew M. Hernandez, John M. Boone, Paolo Russo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: To present a dataset of computational digital breast phantoms derived from high-resolution three-dimensional (3D) clinical breast images for the use in virtual clinical trials in two-dimensional (2D) and 3D x-ray breast imaging. Acquisition and validation methods: Uncompressed computational breast phantoms for investigations in dedicated breast CT (BCT) were derived from 150 clinical 3D breast images acquired via a BCT scanner at UC Davis (California, USA). Each image voxel was classified in one out of the four main materials presented in the field of view: fibroglandular tissue, adipose tissue, skin tissue, and air. For the image classification, a semi-automatic software was developed. The semi-automatic classification was compared via manual glandular classification performed by two researchers. A total of 60 compressed computational phantoms for virtual clinical trials in digital mammography (DM) and digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) were obtained from the corresponding uncompressed phantoms via a software algorithm simulating the compression and the elastic deformation of the breast, using the tissue’s elastic coefficient. This process was evaluated in terms of glandular fraction modification introduced by the compression procedure. The generated cohort of 150 uncompressed computational breast phantoms presented a mean value of the glandular fraction by mass of 12.3%; the average diameter of the breast evaluated at the center of mass was 105 mm. Despite the slight differences between the two manual segmentations, the resulting glandular tissue segmentation did not consistently differ from that obtained via the semi-automatic classification. The difference between the glandular fraction by mass before and after the compression was 2.1% on average. The 60 compressed phantoms presented an average glandular fraction by mass of 12.1% and an average compressed thickness of 61 mm. Data format and access: The generated digital breast phantoms are stored in DICOM files. Image voxels can present one out of four values representing the different classified materials: 0 for the air, 1 for the adipose tissue, 2 for the glandular tissue, and 3 for the skin tissue. The generated computational phantoms datasets were stored in the Zenodo public repository for research purposes (, Potential applications: The dataset developed within the INFN AGATA project will be used for developing a platform for virtual clinical trials in x-ray breast imaging and dosimetry. In addition, they will represent a valid support for introducing new breast models for dose estimates in 2D and 3D x-ray breast imaging and as models for manufacturing anthropomorphic physical phantoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMedical Physics
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • computational breast phantoms
  • CT dedicated to the breast
  • digital breast tomosynthesis
  • mammography
  • Monte Carlo simulations
  • virtual clinical trials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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