Physics in Medicine and Biology vol:57 issue:22 pages:7629-7650
The aim of this work was to propose system sharpness parameters for digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) systems that include the influence of focus size and focus motion for use in quality assurance protocols. X-ray focus size was measured using a multiple pinhole test object, while detector presampling modulation transfer function (MTF) was measured from projection images of a 10 cm × 10 cm, 1 mm thick steel edge, for the Siemens Inspiration and Hologic Selenia Dimensions DBT systems. The height of the edge above the table was then varied from 1 to 78 mm. The MTF expected from theory for the projection images was calculated from the measured detector MTF, focus size MTF and focus motion MTF and was compared against measured curves. Two methods were used to measure the in-plane MTF in the DBT volume: a tungsten wire of diameter 25 µm and an Al edge 0.2 mm thick, both imaged with a 15 mm thick poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) plate. The in-depth point spread function (PSF) was measured using an angled tungsten wire. The full 3D MTF was estimated with a 0.5 mm diameter aluminium bead held in a 45 mm thick PMMA phantom, with the bead 15 and 65 mm above the table. Inspiration DBT projection images are saved at native detector resolution (85 µm), while the Dimensions re-bins projections to 140 µm pixels (2 × 2 binning); both systems used 2 × 2 binning of projection data before reconstruction. The 50% point for the MTF (MTF(0.50)) measured in the DBT projection images for the tube-travel direction fell as a function of height above the table from 3.60 to 0.90 mm(-1) for the Inspiration system and from 2.50 to 1.20 mm(-1) for the Dimensions unit. The maximum deviation of measured MTF(0.50) from the calculated value was 13%. MTF(0.50) measured in-plane (tube-travel direction) fell as a function of height above the table from 1.66 to 0.97 mm(-1) for the Inspiration system and from 2.21 to 1.31 mm(-1) for the Dimensions system. The full-width half-maximum for the in-depth PSF was 3.0 and 5.9 mm for the Inspiration and Dimensions systems, respectively. There was no difference in the 3D MTF curves, sectioned in the tube-travel direction, for bead heights of 15 and 65 mm above the table. A 25 µm tungsten wire held within a 15 mm thick PMMA plate was found to be a suitable test object for measurement of in-plane MTF. Evaluation of MTF as a function of height above the table, both in the projection images and in the reconstructed planes, provides important information on the impact of focus size and focus motion on the DBT system's imaging performance.