Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT) is a 3D x-ray technique for imaging the breast. The x-ray tube, mounted on a gantry, moves in an arc over a limited angular range around the breast while 7-15 images are acquired over a period of a few seconds. A reconstruction algorithm is used to create a 3D volume dataset from the projection images. This procedure reduces the effects of tissue superposition, often responsible for degrading the quality of projection mammograms. This may help improve sensitivity of cancer detection, while reducing the number of false positive results.
For DBT, images are acquired at a set of gantry rotation angles. The image reconstruction process requires several geometrical factors associated with image acquisition to be known accurately, however, vibration, encoder inaccuracy, the effects of gravity on the gantry arm and manufacturing tolerances can produce deviations from the desired acquisition geometry. Unlike cone-beam CT, in which a complete dataset is acquired (500+ projections over 180°), tomosynthesis reconstruction is challenging in that the angular range is narrow (typically from 20°-45°) and there are fewer projection images (≈7-15). With such a limited dataset, reconstruction is very sensitive to geometric alignment. Uncertainties in factors such as detector tilt, gantry angle, focal spot location, source-detector distance and source-pivot distance can produce several artifacts in the reconstructed volume. To accurately and efficiently calculate the location and angles of orientation of critical components of the system in DBT geometry, a suitable phantom is required.
We have designed a calibration phantom for tomosynthesis and developed software for accurate measurement of the geometric parameters of a DBT system. These have been tested both by simulation and experiment. We will present estimates of the precision available with this technique for a prototype DBT system.