PurposeMammographic density has been shown to be an indicator of breast cancer risk and also reduces the sensitivity of screening mammography. Currently, there is no accepted standard for measuring breast density. Dual energy mammography has been proposed as a technique for accurate measurement of breast density. The purpose of this study is to validate its accuracy in postmortem breasts and compare it with other existing techniques.
MethodsForty postmortem breasts were imaged using a dual energy mammography system. Glandular and adipose equivalent phantoms of uniform thickness were used to calibrate a dual energy basis decomposition algorithm. Dual energy decomposition was applied after scatter correction to calculate breast density. Breast density was also estimated using radiologist reader assessment, standard histogram thresholding and a fuzzy C-mean algorithm. Chemical analysis was used as the reference standard to assess the accuracy of different techniques to measure breast composition.
ResultsBreast density measurements using radiologist reader assessment, standard histogram thresholding, fuzzy C-mean algorithm, and dual energy were in good agreement with the measured fibroglandular volume fraction using chemical analysis. The standard error estimates using radiologist reader assessment, standard histogram thresholding, fuzzy C-mean, and dual energy were 9.9%, 8.6%, 7.2%, and 4.7%, respectively.
ConclusionsThe results indicate that dual energy mammography can be used to accurately measure breast density. The variability in breast density estimation using dual energy mammography was lower than reader assessment rankings, standard histogram thresholding, and fuzzy C-mean algorithm. Improved quantification of breast density is expected to further enhance its utility as a risk factor for breast cancer.