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Med Phys. 2013 Mar;40(3):031917. doi: 10.1118/1.4792296.

Dependency of image quality on system configuration parameters in a stationary digital breast tomosynthesis system.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.



In principle, a stationary digital breast tomosynthesis (s-DBT) system has better image quality when compared to continuous motion DBT systems due to zero motion blur of the source. The authors have developed a s-DBT system by using a linear carbon nanotube x-ray source array. The purpose of the current study was to quantitatively evaluate the performance of the s-DBT system; and investigate the dependence of imaging quality on the system configuration parameters.


Physical phantoms were used to assess the image quality of each configuration including inplane resolution as measured by the modulation transfer function (MTF), inplane contrast as measured by the signal difference to noise ratio (SdNR), and depth resolution as measured by the z-axis artifact spread function. Five parameters were varied to create five groups of configurations: (1) total angular span; (2) total number of projection images; (3) distribution of exposure (mAs) across the projection images; (4) entrance dose; (5) detector pixel size.


It was found that the z-axis depth resolution increased with the total angular span but was insensitive to the number of projection images, mAs distribution, entrance dose, and detector pixel size. The SdNR was not affected by the angular span or the number of projection images. A decrease in SdNR was observed when the mAs was not evenly distributed across the projection images. As expected, the SdNR increased with entrance dose and when larger pixel sizes were used. For a given detector pixel size, the inplane resolution was found to be insensitive to the total angular span, number of projection images, mAs distribution, and entrance dose. A 25% increase in the MTF was observed when the detector was operating in full resolution mode (70 μm pixel size) compared to 2 × 2 binned mode (140 μm pixel size).


The results suggest that the optimal imaging configuration for a s-DBT system is a large angular span, an intermittent number of projection views, and a uniform mAs distribution over all views. With the detector operating at full resolution, a stationary DBT system can achieve an inplane resolution of 5.1 cycles per mm, which is significantly better than continuous motion DBT systems.

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