Physics in Medicine and Biology vol:56 issue:14 pages:4201-20
In many European countries, image quality for digital x-ray systems used in screening mammography is currently specified using a threshold-detail detectability method. This is a two-part study that proposes an alternative method based on calculated detectability for a model observer: the first part of the work presents a characterization of the systems. Eleven digital mammography systems were included in the study; four computed radiography (CR) systems, and a group of seven digital radiography (DR) detectors, composed of three amorphous selenium-based detectors, three caesium iodide scintillator systems and a silicon wafer-based photon counting system. The technical parameters assessed included the system response curve, detector uniformity error, pre-sampling modulation transfer function (MTF), normalized noise power spectrum (NNPS) and detective quantum efficiency (DQE). Approximate quantum noise limited exposure range was examined using a separation of noise sources based upon standard deviation. Noise separation showed that electronic noise was the dominant noise at low detector air kerma for three systems; the remaining systems showed quantum noise limited behaviour between 12.5 and 380 µGy. Greater variation in detector MTF was found for the DR group compared to the CR systems; MTF at 5 mm(-1) varied from 0.08 to 0.23 for the CR detectors against a range of 0.16-0.64 for the DR units. The needle CR detector had a higher MTF, lower NNPS and higher DQE at 5 mm(-1) than the powder CR phosphors. DQE at 5 mm(-1) ranged from 0.02 to 0.20 for the CR systems, while DQE at 5 mm(-1) for the DR group ranged from 0.04 to 0.41, indicating higher DQE for the DR detectors and needle CR system than for the powder CR phosphor systems. The technical evaluation section of the study showed that the digital mammography systems were well set up and exhibiting typical performance for the detector technology employed in the respective systems.