Radiation scattered from the breast in digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) causes image degradation, including loss of contrast between cancerous and background tissue. Unlike in 2-dimensional (2D) mammography, an antiscatter grid cannot readily be used in DBT because changing alignment between the tube and detector during the scan would result in unacceptable loss of primary radiation. However, in the dual modality breast tomosynthesis (DMT) scanner, which combines DBT and molecular breast tomosynthesis, the tube and detector rotate around a common axis, thereby maintaining a fixed tube-detector alignment. This C-arm geometry raises the possibility of using a 2D (cellular) focused antiscatter grid. The purpose of this study is to assess change in image quality when using an antiscatter grid in the DBT portion of a DMT scan under conditions of fixed radiation dose.
Two 2D focused prototype grids with 80 cm focal length were tested, one stack-laminated from copper (Cu) and one cast from a tungsten-polymer (W-poly). They were reciprocated using a motion scheme designed to maximize transmission of primary x-ray photons. Grid-in and grid-out scatter-to-primary ratios (SPRs) were measured for rectangular blocks of material simulating 30%, 50%, and 70% glandular tissue compositions. For assessment of changes in image quality through the addition of a grid, the Computerized Imaging Reference Systems, Inc., phantom Model 011A containing a set of 1 cm thick blocks simulating a range of glandular/adipose ratios from 0/100 to 100/0 was used. To simulate 6.5 and 8.5 cm thick compressed breasts, 1 cm thick slices of PMMA were added to the Model 011A phantom. DBT images were obtained with and without the grid, with exposure parameters fixed for a given compressed thickness. Signal-difference-to-noise ratios (SDNRs), contrast, and voxel value-based attenuation coefficients (μ) were measured for all blocks from reconstructed phantom images.
For 4, 6, and 8 cm tissue-equivalent block phantom thicknesses, the inclusion of the W-poly grid reduced the SPR by factors of 5, 6, and 5.8, respectively. For the same thicknesses, the copper grid reduced the SPR by factors of 3.9, 4.5, and 4.9. For the 011A phantom, the W-poly grid raised the SDNR of the 70/30 block from 0.8, −0.32, and −0.72 to 0.9, 0.76, and 0.062 for the 4.5, 6.5, and 8.5 cm phantoms, respectively. It raised the SDNR of the 100/0 block from 3.78, 1.95, and 1.0 to 3.79, 3.67, and 3.25 for the 4.5, 6.5, and 8.5 cm phantoms, respectively. Inclusion of the W-poly grid improved the accuracy of image-based μ values for all block compositions. However, smearing of attenuation across slices due to limited angular sampling decreases the sensitivity of voxel values to changing composition compared to theoretical μ values.
Under conditions of fixed radiation dose to the breast, use of a 2D focused grid increased contrast, SDNR, and accuracy of estimated attenuation for mass-simulating block compositions in all phantom thicknesses tested, with the degree of improvement depending upon material composition. A 2D antiscatter grid can be usefully incorporated in DBT systems that employ fully isocentric tube-detector rotation.