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Med Phys. 2002 Aug;29(8):1739-51.

A dual-energy subtraction technique for microcalcification imaging in digital mammography--a signal-to-noise analysis.

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Department of Imaging Physics, University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030, USA.


Breast cancer may manifest as microcalcifications (microCs) in x-ray mammography. However, the detection and visualization of microCs are often obscured by the overlapping tissue structures. The dual-energy subtraction imaging technique offers an alternative approach for imaging and visualizing microCs. With this technique, separate high- and low-energy images are acquired and their differences are used to "cancel" out the background tissue structures. However, the subtraction process could increase the statistical noise level relative to the calcification contrast. Therefore, a key issue with the dual-energy subtraction imaging technique is to weigh the benefit of removing the cluttered background tissue structure over the drawback of reduced signal-to-noise ratio in the subtracted microC images. In this report, a theoretical framework for calculating the (quantum) noise in the subtraction images is developed and the numerical computations are described. We estimate the noise levels in the dual-energy subtraction signals under various imaging conditions, including the x-ray spectra, microC size, tissue composition, and breast thickness. The selection of imaging parameters is optimized to evaluate the feasibility of using a dual-energy subtraction technique for the improved detection and visualization of microCs. We present the results and discuss its dependence on imaging parameters.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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