A novel approach to background subtraction in contrast-enhanced dual-energy digital mammography with commercially available mammography devices: Noise minimization




Dual-energy image subtraction represents a useful tool to improve the detectability of small lesions, especially in dense breasts. A feature it shares with all x-ray imaging techniques is the appearance of fluctuations in the texture of the background, which can obscure the visibility of interesting details. The aim of the work is to investigate the main noise sources, in order to create a better performing subtraction mechanism. In particular, the structural noise cancellation was achieved by means of a suitable extension of the dual-energy algorithm.


The effect of the cancellation procedure was tested on an analytical simulation of a target with varying structural composition. Subsequently, the subtraction algorithm was also applied to a set of actual radiographs of a breast phantom exhibiting a nonuniform background pattern. The background power spectra of the outcomes were computed and compared to the ones obtained from a standard subtraction algorithm.


The comparison between the standard and the proposed cancellations showed an overall suppression of the magnitudes of the spectra, as well as a flattening of the frequency dependence of the structural component of the noise.


The proposed subtraction procedure provides an effective cancellation of the residual background fluctuations. When combined with the polychromatic correction already described in a companion publication, it results in a high performing dual-energy subtraction scheme for commercial mammography units.