Slit-scanning differential x-ray phase-contrast mammography: Proof-of-concept experimental studies




The purpose of this work is to investigate the feasibility of grating-based, differential phase-contrast, full-field digital mammography (FFDM) in terms of the requirements for field-of-view (FOV), mechanical stability, and scan time.


A rigid, actuator-free Talbot interferometric unit was designed and integrated into a state-of-the-art x-ray slit-scanning mammography system, namely, the Philips MicroDose L30 FFDM system. A dedicated phase-acquisition and phase retrieval method was developed and implemented that exploits the redundancy of the data acquisition inherent to the slit-scanning approach to image generation of the system. No modifications to the scan arm motion control were implemented.


The authors achieve a FOV of 160 × 196 mm consisting of two disjoint areas measuring 77 × 196 mm with a gap of 6 mm between them. Typical scanning times vary between 10 and 15 s and dose levels are lower than typical FFDM doses for conventional scans with identical acquisition parameters due to the presence of the source-grating G0. Only minor to moderate artifacts are observed in the three reconstructed images, indicating that mechanical vibrations induced by other system components do not prevent the use of the platform for phase contrast imaging.


To the best of our knowledge, this is the first attempt to integrate x-ray gratings hardware into a clinical mammography unit. The results demonstrate that a scanning differential phase contrast FFDM system that meets the requirements of FOV, stability, scan time, and dose can be build.