Evolution of spatial resolution in breast CT at UC Davis

Peymon M. Gazi, Kai Yang, George W. Burkett, Shadi Aminololama-Shakeri, J Anthony Seibert, John M Boone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Purpose: Dedicated breast computed tomography (bCT) technology for the purpose of breast cancer screening has been a focus of research at UC Davis since the late 1990s. Previous studies have shown that improvement in spatial resolution characteristics of this modality correlates with greater microcalcification detection, a factor considered a potential limitation of bCT. The aim of this study is to improve spatial resolution as characterized by the modulation transfer function (MTF) via changes in the scanner hardware components and operational schema. Methods: Four prototypes of pendant-geometry, cone-beam breast CT scanners were designed and developed spanning three generations of design evolution. To improve the system MTF in each bCT generation, modifications were made to the imaging components (x-ray tube and flat-panel detector), system geometry (source-to-isocenter and detector distance), and image acquisition parameters (technique factors, number of projections, system synchronization scheme, and gantry rotational speed). Results: Characterization of different generations of bCT systems shows these modifications resulted in a 188% improvement of the limiting MTF properties from the first to second generation and an additional 110% from the second to third. The intrinsic resolution degradation in the azimuthal direction observed in the first generation was corrected by changing the acquisition from continuous to pulsed x-ray acquisition. Utilizing a high resolution detector in the third generation, along with modifications made in system geometry and scan protocol, resulted in a 125% improvement in limiting resolution. An additional 39% improvement was obtained by changing the detector binning mode from 2×2 to 1×1. Conclusions: These results underscore the advancement in spatial resolution characteristics of breast CT technology. The combined use of a pulsed x-ray system, higher resolution flat-panel detector and changing the scanner geometry and image acquisition logic resulted in a significant fourfold improvement in MTF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1973-1981
Number of pages9
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • breast imaging
  • computed tomography
  • cone-beam CT
  • modulation transfer function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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