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Med Phys. 2008 Jun;35(6):2414-23.

Optimization of exposure parameters in full field digital mammography.

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Department of Radiology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908, USA.


Optimization of exposure parameters (target, filter, and kVp) in digital mammography necessitates maximization of the image signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), while simultaneously minimizing patient dose. The goal of this study is to compare, for each of the major commercially available full field digital mammography (FFDM) systems, the impact of the selection of technique factors on image SNR and radiation dose for a range of breast thickness and tissue types. This phantom study is an update of a previous investigation and includes measurements on recent versions of two of the FFDM systems discussed in that article, as well as on three FFDM systems not available at that time. The five commercial FFDM systems tested, the Senographe 2000D from GE Healthcare, the Mammomat Novation DR from Siemens, the Selenia from Hologic, the Fischer Senoscan, and Fuji's 5000MA used with a Lorad M-IV mammography unit, are located at five different university test sites. Performance was assessed using all available x-ray target and filter combinations and nine different phantom types (three compressed thicknesses and three tissue composition types). Each phantom type was also imaged using the automatic exposure control (AEC) of each system to identify the exposure parameters used under automated image acquisition. The figure of merit (FOM) used to compare technique factors is the ratio of the square of the image SNR to the mean glandular dose. The results show that, for a given target/filter combination, in general FOM is a slowly changing function of kVp, with stronger dependence on the choice of target/filter combination. In all cases the FOM was a decreasing function of kVp at the top of the available range of kVp settings, indicating that higher tube voltages would produce no further performance improvement. For a given phantom type, the exposure parameter set resulting in the highest FOM value was system specific, depending on both the set of available target/filter combinations, and on the receptor type. In most cases, the AECs of the FFDM systems successfully identified exposure parameters resulting in FOM values near the maximum ones, however, there were several examples where AEC performance could be improved.

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