Three dimensional image modalities introduce a new paradigm for visual search requiring visual exploration of a larger search space than 2D imaging modalities. The large number of slices in the 3D volumes and the limited reading times make it difficult for radiologists to explore thoroughly by fixating with their high resolution fovea on all regions of each slice. Thus, for 3D images, observers must rely much more on their visual periphery (points away from fixation) to process image information. We previously found a dissociation in signal detectability between 2D and 3D search tasks for small signals in synthetic textures evaluated with non-radiologist trained observers. Here, we extend our evaluation to more clinically realistic backgrounds and radiologist observers. We studied the detectability of simulated microcalcifications (MCALC) and masses (MASS) in Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT) utilizing virtual breast phantoms. We compared the lesion detectability of 8 radiologists during free search in 3D DBT and a 2D single-slice DBT (center slice of the 3D DBT). Our results show that the detectability of the microcalcification degrades significantly in 3D DBT with respect to the 2D single-slice DBT. On the other hand, the detectability for masses does not show this behavior and its detectability is not significantly different. The large deterioration of the 3D detectability of microcalcifications relative to masses may be related to the peripheral processing given the high number of cases in which the microcalcification was missed and the high number of search errors. Together, the results extend previous findings with synthetic textures and highlight how search in 3D images is distinct from 2D search as a consequence of the interaction between search strategies and the visibility of signals in the visual periphery.
Miguel A. Lago, Craig K. Abbey, Bruno Barufaldi, Predrag R. Bakic, Susan P. Weinstein, Andrew D. Maidment, and Miguel P. Eckstein, "Interactions of lesion detectability and size across single-slice DBT and 3D DBT," Proc. SPIE 10577, Medical Imaging 2018: Image Perception, Observer Performance, and Technology Assessment, 105770X (Presented at SPIE Medical Imaging: February 12, 2018; Published: 7 March 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2293873.
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