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Radiology. 2012 Apr;263(1):35-42. doi: 10.1148/radiol.11111789. Epub 2012 Feb 13.

Clinical digital breast tomosynthesis system: dosimetric characterization.

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  • 1Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.

Erratum in

  • Radiology. 2014 May;271(2):620.



To comprehensively characterize the dosimetric properties of a clinical digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) system for the acquisition of mammographic and tomosynthesis images.


Compressible water-oil mixture phantoms were created and imaged by using the automatic exposure control (AEC) of the Selenia Dimensions system (Hologic, Bedford, Mass) in both DBT and full-field digital mammography (FFDM) mode. Empirical measurements of the x-ray tube output were performed with a dosimeter to measure the air kerma for the range of tube current-exposure time product settings and to develop models of the automatically selected x-ray spectra. A Monte Carlo simulation of the system was developed and used in conjunction with the AEC-chosen settings and spectra models to compute and compare the mean glandular dose (MGD) resulting from both imaging modalities for breasts of varying sizes and glandular compositions.


Acquisition of a single craniocaudal view resulted in an MGD ranging from 0.309 to 5.26 mGy in FFDM mode and from 0.657 to 3.52 mGy in DBT mode. For a breast with a compressed thickness of 5.0 cm and a 50% glandular fraction, a DBT acquisition resulted in an only 8% higher MGD than an FFDM acquisition (1.30 and 1.20 mGy, respectively). For a breast with a compressed thickness of 6.0 cm and a 14.3% glandular fraction, a DBT acquisition resulted in an 83% higher MGD than an FFDM acquisition (2.12 and 1.16 mGy, respectively).


For two-dimensional-three-dimensional fusion imaging with the Selenia Dimensions system, the MGD for a 5-cm-thick 50% glandular breast is 2.50 mGy, which is less than the Mammography Quality Standards Act limit for a two-view screening mammography study.

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