A novel approach to digital breast tomosynthesis for simultaneous acquisition of 2D and 3D images



The complexity of anatomical structure within the breast represents the ultimate limit to signal detection on a mammogram. To increase lesion conspicuity Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT) has been recently proposed and several manufacturers are currently performing clinical trials. In this study we investigate the potential of DBT with variable dose distribution by using a phantom in which details of interest are within a heterogeneous background.


To compare the performance of a commercial digital mammography unit and a DBT prototype, 2D and 3D images of the breast phantom were obtained at similar dose levels.


As expected, DBT showed superior performance over digital mammography. Although certain details of interest are not detectable with digital mammography, DBT can reveal their signal by reducing the complexity of tissue structures. Additionally, the potential of the central projection in variable dose DBT is similar to the standard projection obtained with digital mammography. Finally, the uniform and variable dose approaches provided almost identical reconstructed slices.


This preliminary investigation demonstrates that breast tomosynthesis acquired with variable dose distribution exhibits inherent 3D reconstruction advantages for structure noise removal and provides a 2D projection with a physical image quality close to that of standard mammography.

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Dr Sara Vecchio holds a post-doc grant which is partly supported by the IMS company. Dr Angelo Taibi is also scientific consultant of the IMS company.

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Correspondence to Angelo Taibi.

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Vecchio, S., Albanese, A., Vignoli, P. et al. A novel approach to digital breast tomosynthesis for simultaneous acquisition of 2D and 3D images. Eur Radiol 21, 1207–1213 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00330-010-2041-y

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  • Tomosynthesis
  • Digital mammography
  • Breast phantom
  • X-ray imaging
  • Variable dose