Imaging performance of an amorphous selenium digital mammography detector in a breast tomosynthesis system

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Abstract

In breast tomosynthesis a rapid sequence of N images is acquired when the x-ray tube sweeps through different angular views with respect to the breast. Since the total dose to the breast is kept the same as that in regular mammography, the exposure used for each image of tomosynthesis is 1/N. The low dose and high frame rate pose a tremendous challenge to the imaging performance of digital mammography detectors. The purpose of the present work is to investigate the detector performance in different operational modes designed for tomosynthesis acquisition, e.g., binning or full resolution readout, the range of view angles, and the number of views N. A prototype breast tomosynthesis system with a nominal angular range of ±25° was used in our investigation. The system was equipped with an amorphous selenium (a-Se) full field digital mammography detector with pixel size of 85μm. The detector can be read out in full resolution or 2×1 binning (binning in the tube travel direction). The focal spot blur due to continuous tube travel was measured for different acquisition geometries, and it was found that pixel binning, instead of focal spot blur, dominates the detector modulation transfer function (MTF). The noise power spectrum (NPS) and detective quantum efficiency (DQE) of the detector were measured with the exposure range of 0.4–6 mR, which is relevant to the low dose used in tomosynthesis. It was found that DQE at 0.4 mR is only 20% less than that at highest exposure for both detector readout modes. The detector temporal performance was categorized as lag and ghosting, both of which were measured as a function of x-ray exposure. The first frame lags were 8% and 4%, respectively, for binning and full resolution mode. Ghosting is negligible and independent of the frame rate. The results showed that the detector performance is x-ray quantum noise limited at the low exposures used in each view of tomosynthesis, and the temporal performance at high frame rate (up to 2 frames per second) is adequate for tomosynthesis.

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