Published for the American Association of Physicists in Medicine by the American Institute of Physics
Medical Physics vol:40 issue:3 pages:031105
Purpose: Digital breast tomosynthesis is a relatively new diagnostic x-ray modality that allows high resolution breast imaging while suppressing interference from overlapping anatomical structures. However, proper visualization of microcalcifications remains a challenge. For the subset of systems considered by the authors, the main cause of deterioration is movement of the x-ray source during exposures. They propose a modified grouped coordinate ascent algorithm that includes a specific acquisition model to compensate for this deterioration.Methods: A resolution model based on the movement of the x-ray source during image acquisition is created and combined with a grouped coordinate ascent algorithm. Choosing planes parallel to the detector surface as the groups enables efficient implementation of the position dependent resolution model. In the current implementation, the resolution model is approximated by a Gaussian smoothing kernel. The effect of the resolution model on the iterative reconstruction is evaluated by measuring contrast to noise ratio (CNR) of spherical microcalcifications in a homogeneous background. After this, the new reconstruction method is compared to the optimized filtered backprojection method for the considered system, by performing two observer studies: the first study simulates clusters of spherical microcalcifications in a power law background for a free search task; the second study simu-lates smooth or irregular microcalcifications in the same type of backgrounds for a classification task.Results: Including the resolution model in the iterative reconstruction methods increases the CNR of microcalcifications. The first observer study shows a significant improvement in detection of microcalcifications (p = 0.029), while the second study shows that performance on a classification task remains the same (p = 0.935) compared to the filtered backprojection method.Conclusions: The new method shows higher CNR and improved visualization of microcalcifications in an observer experiment on synthetic data. Further study of the negative results of the classification task showed performance variations throughout the volume linked to the changing noise structure introduced by the combination of the resolution model and the smoothing prior.