Generating synthetic mammograms from reconstructed tomosynthesis volumes

G. van Schie, R. Mann, M. Imhof-Tas and N. Karssemeijer

IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging 2013;32(12):2322-2331

DOI PMID

Abstract

Digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) is a promising 3D modality that may replace mammography in the future. However, lesion search is likely to require more time in DBT volumes, while comparisons between views from different projections and prior exams might be harder to make. This may make screening with DBT cumbersome. A solution may be provided by synthesizing 2D mammograms from DBT, which may then be used to guide the search for abnormalities. In this work we focus on synthesizing mammograms in which masses and architectural distortions are optimally visualized. Our approach first determines relevant points in a DBT volume with a computer-aided detection system and then renders a mammogram from the intersection of a surface fitted through these points and the DBT volume. The method was evaluated in a pilot observer study where three readers reported mass findings in 87 patients (25 malignant, 62 normal) for which both DBT and digital mammograms were available. We found that on average, diagnostic accuracy in the synthetic mammograms was higher (Az=0.85) than in conventional mammograms (Az=0.81), although the difference was not statistically significant. Preliminary results suggest that the synthesized mammograms are an acceptable alternative for real mammograms regarding the detection of mass lesions.