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Biomed Eng Online. 2008 Mar 28;7:13. doi: 10.1186/1475-925X-7-13.

Effective x-ray attenuation coefficient measurements from two full field digital mammography systems for data calibration applications.

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Cancer Prevention & Control Department, Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, Florida, USA.



Breast density is a significant breast cancer risk factor. Currently, there is no standard method for measuring this important factor. Work presented here represents an essential component of an ongoing project that seeks to determine the appropriate method for calibrating (standardizing) mammography image data to account for the x-ray image acquisition influences. Longer term goals of this project are to make accurate breast density measurements in support of risk studies.


Logarithmic response calibration curves and effective x-ray attenuation coefficients were measured from two full field digital mammography (FFDM) systems with breast tissue equivalent phantom imaging and compared. Normalization methods were studied to assess the possibility of reducing the amount of calibration data collection. The percent glandular calibration map functional form was investigated. Spatial variations in the calibration data were used to assess the uncertainty in the calibration application by applying error propagation analyses.


Logarithmic response curves are well approximated as linear. Measured effective x-ray attenuation coefficients are characteristic quantities independent of the imaging system and are in agreement with those predicted numerically. Calibration data collection can be reduced by applying a simple normalization technique. The calibration map is well approximated as linear. Intrasystem calibration variation was on the order of four percent, which was approximately half of the intersystem variation.


FFDM systems provide a quantitative output, and the calibration quantities presented here may be used for data acquired on similar FFDM systems.

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