A New Step-Wedge for the Volumetric Measurement of Mammographic Density
The volume of dense breast tissue can be calculated from an x-ray mammogram by imaging a calibrated step-wedge alongside the breast and determining the compressed breast thickness. Previously published work used a step-wedge made of PTFE with a maximum height of 35mm, length 175mm and width 15mm. Although fulfilling all theoretical requirements, it can be difficult to find space on the film for a large step-wedge when examining bigger breasts. Furthermore, the step-wedge is lead-lined, making it heavy and difficult to attach to the bucky. A more compact aluminium step-wedge has been designed to overcome these limitations, and experiments have been carried out on a prototype to evaluate its performance. Initial results show that the maximum and minimum heights of the prototype step-wedge are inadequate to sufficiently cover the range of optical densities within a breast image at the higher and lower exposures required for 6cm and 2cm Perspex (>200mAs and <40mAs respectively). However, the step increment appears to be satisfactory. Analysis of the mean pixel value and standard deviation within Regions of Interest of varying size and position indicates an optimum step length of 3mm. A new step-wedge has been constructed with an improved specification informed by the evaluation of the prototype.
KeywordsStep Length Mammographic Density Digital Mammography Step Height Volumetric Measurement
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