Radiation protection physics
Dosimetric characterization and organ dose assessment in digital breast tomosynthesis: Measurements and Monte Carlo simulations using voxel phantoms
Due to its capability to more accurately detect deep lesions inside the breast by removing the effect of overlying anatomy, digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) has the potential to replace the standard mammography technique in clinical screening exams. However, the European Guidelines for DBT dosimetry are still a work in progress and there are little data available on organ doses other than to the breast. It is, therefore, of great importance to assess the dosimetric performance of DBT with respect to the one obtained with standard digital mammography (DM) systems. The aim of this work is twofold: (i) to study the dosimetric properties of a combined DBT/DM system (MAMMOMAT Inspiration Siemens®) for a tungsten/rhodium (W/Rh) anode/filter combination and (ii) to evaluate organs doses during a DBT examination.
For the first task, measurements were performed in manual and automatic exposure control (AEC) modes, using two homogeneous breast phantoms: a PMMA slab phantom and a 4 cm thick breast-shaped rigid phantom, with 50% of glandular tissue in its composition. Monte Carlo (MC) simulations were performed using Monte Carlo N-Particle eXtended v.2.7.0. A MC model was implemented to mimic DM and DBT acquisitions for a wide range of x-ray spectra (24 –34 kV). This was used to calculate mean glandular dose (MGD) and to compute series of backscatter factors (BSFs) that could be inserted into the DBT dosimetric formalism proposed by Dance et al. Regarding the second aim of the study, the implemented MC model of the clinical equipment, together with a female voxel phantom (“Laura”), was used to calculate organ doses considering a typical DBT acquisition. Results were compared with a standard two-view mammography craniocaudal (CC) acquisition.
Considering the AEC mode, the acquisition of a single CC view results in a MGD ranging from 0.53 ± 0.07 mGy to 2.41 ± 0.31 mGy in DM mode and from 0.77 ± 0.11 mGy to 2.28 ± 0.32 mGy in DBT mode. Regarding the BSF, the results achieved may lead to a MGD correction of about 6%, contributing to the improvement of the current guidelines used in these applications. Finally, considering the MC results obtained for the organ dose study, the radiation doses found for the tissues of the body other than the breast were in the range of tens of μSv, and are in part comparable to the ones obtained in standard DM. Nevertheless, in a single DBT examination, some organs (such as lung and thyroid) receive higher doses (of about 9% and 21%, respectively) with respect to the CC DM acquisition.
Taking into account an average breast with a thickness of 4.5 cm, the MGDs for DM and DBT acquisitions were below the achievable value (2.0 mGy) defined by the European protocol. Additionally, in the case of a fusion imaging study (DM + DBT), the MGD for a 4.5 cm thick breast is of the order of 1.88 ± 0.36 mGy. Finally, organ dose evaluations underline the need to improve awareness concerning dose estimation of DBT exams for some organs, especially when radiation risk is assessed by using the effective dose.