An Automatic Correction Method for the Heel Effect in Digitized Mammography Images
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The most significant radiation field nonuniformity is the well-known Heel effect. This nonuniform beam effect has a negative influence on the results of computer-aided diagnosis of mammograms, which is frequently used for early cancer detection. This paper presents a method to correct all pixels in the mammography image according to the excess or lack on radiation to which these have been submitted as a result of the this effect. The current simulation method calculates the intensities at all points of the image plane. In the simulated image, the percentage of radiation received by all the points takes the center of the field as reference. In the digitized mammography, the percentages of the optical density of all the pixels of the analyzed image are also calculated. The Heel effect causes a Gaussian distribution around the anode–cathode axis and a logarithmic distribution parallel to this axis. Those characteristic distributions are used to determine the center of the radiation field as well as the cathode–anode axis, allowing for the automatic determination of the correlation between these two sets of data. The measurements obtained with our proposed method differs on average by 2.49 mm in the direction perpendicular to the anode–cathode axis and 2.02 mm parallel to the anode–cathode axis of commercial equipment. The method eliminates around 94% of the Heel effect in the radiological image and the objects will reflect their x-ray absorption. To evaluate this method, experimental data was taken from known objects, but could also be done with clinical and digital images.
Key wordsHeel effect images processing computational simulation x-rays mammography digitized film
The authors wish to express their appreciation for the financial support of FAPESP (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo).
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