The simulation of 3D mass models in 2D digital mammography and breast tomosynthesis




This work proposes a new method of building 3D breast mass models with different morphological shapes and describes the validation of the realism of their appearance after simulation into 2D digital mammograms and breast tomosynthesis images.


Twenty-five contrast enhanced MRI breast lesions were collected and each mass was manually segmented in the three orthogonal views: sagittal, coronal, and transversal. The segmented models were combined, resampled to have isotropic voxel sizes, triangularly meshed, and scaled to different sizes. These masses were referred to as nonspiculated masses and were then used as nuclei onto which spicules were grown with an iterative branching algorithm forming a total of 30 spiculated masses. These 55 mass models were projected into 2D projection images to obtain mammograms after image processing and into tomographic sequences of projection images, which were then reconstructed to form 3D tomosynthesis datasets. The realism of the appearance of these mass models was assessed by five radiologists via receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis when compared to 54 real masses. All lesions were also given a breast imaging reporting and data system (BIRADS) score. The data sets of 2D mammography and tomosynthesis were read separately. The Kendall's coefficient of concordance was used for the interrater observer agreement assessment for the BIRADS scores per modality. Further paired analysis, using the Wilcoxon signed rank test, of the BIRADS assessment between 2D and tomosynthesis was separately performed for the real masses and for the simulated masses.


The area under the ROC curves, averaged over all observers, was 0.54 (95% confidence interval [0.50, 0.66]) for the 2D study, and 0.67 (95% confidence interval [0.55, 0.79]) for the tomosynthesis study. According to the BIRADS scores, the nonspiculated and the spiculated masses varied in their degrees of malignancy from normal (BIRADS 1) to highly suggestive for malignancy (BIRADS 5) indicating the required variety of shapes and margins of these models. The assessment of the BIRADS scores for all observers indicated good agreement based on Kendall's coefficient for both the 2D and the tomosynthesis evaluations. The paired analysis of the BIRADS scores between 2D and tomosynthesis for each observer revealed consistent behavior for the real and simulated masses.


A database of 3D mass models, with variety of shapes and margins, was validated for the realism of their appearance for 2D digital mammography and for breast tomosynthesis. This database is suitable for use in future observer performance studies whether in virtual clinical trials or in patient images with simulated lesions.