In this work, we investigated the visibility of microcalcifications in CCD-based cone beam CT (CBCT) breast imaging.
A paraffin cylinder with a diameter of 135 mm and a thickness of 40 mm was used to simulate a 100% adipose breast.
Calcium carbonate grains, ranging from 140-150 to 200-212 μm in size, were used to simulate the microcalcifications.
Groups of 25 same size microcalcifications were arranged into 5 × 5 clusters. Each cluster was embedded at the center of
a smaller (15 mm diameter) cylindrical paraffin phantom, which were inserted into a hole at the center of the breast
phantom. The breast phantom with the simulated microcalcifications was scanned on a bench top experimental CCDbased
cone beam CT system at various exposure levels with two CCD cameras: Hamamatsu's C4742-56-12ER and
Dalsa 99-66-0000-00. 300 projection images were acquired over 360° and reconstructed with Feldkamp's backprojection
algorithm using a ramp filter. The images were reviewed by 6 readers independently. The ratios of visible
microcalcifications were recorded and averaged over all readers. These ratios were plotted as the function of measured
image signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) for various scans. It was found that 94% visibility was achieved for 200-212 μm
calcifications at an SNR of 48.2 while 50% visibility was achieved for 200-212, 180-200, 160-180, 150-160 and 140-150
μm calcifications at an SNR of 25.0, 35.3, 38.2, 42.2 and 64.4, respectively.