Purpose: To investigate the potential of spectral mammography to distinguish between type I calcifications, consisting of calcium oxalate dihydrate or weddellite compounds that are more often associated with benign lesions, and type II calcifications containing hydroxyapatite which are predominantly associated with malignant tumors. Methods: Using a ray tracing algorithm, we simulated the total number of x-ray photons recorded by the detector at one pixel from a single pencil-beam projection through a breast of 50/50 (adipose/glandular) tissues with inserted microcalcifications of different types and sizes. Material decomposition using two energy bins was then applied to characterize the simulated calcifications into hydroxyapatite and weddellite using maximumlikelihood estimation, taking into account the polychromatic source, the detector response function and the energy dependent attenuation. Results: Simulation tests were carried out for different doses and calcification sizes for multiple realizations. The results were summarized using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis with the area under the curve (AUC) taken as an overall indicator of discrimination performance and showing high AUC values up to 0.99. Conclusion: Our simulation results obtained for a uniform breast imaging phantom indicate that spectral mammography using two energy bins has the potential to be used as a non-invasive method for discrimination between type I and type II microcalcifications to improve early breast cancer diagnosis and reduce the number of unnecessary breast biopsies.
B. Ghammraoui and S. J. Glick, "Classification of breast microcalcifications using spectral mammography," Proc. SPIE 10132, Medical Imaging 2017: Physics of Medical Imaging, 101321E (Presented at SPIE Medical Imaging: February 15, 2017; Published: 9 March 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2255529.
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