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The authors are developing a system for calibrated breast density measurements using full field digital mammography (FFDM). Breast tissue equivalent (BTE) phantom images are used to establish baseline (BL) calibration curves at time zero. For a given FFDM unit, the full BL dataset is comprised of approximately 160 phantom images, acquired prior to calibrating prospective patient mammograms. BL curves are monitored serially to ensure they produce accurate calibration and require updating when calibration accuracy degrades beyond an acceptable tolerance, rather than acquiring full BL datasets repeatedly. BL updating is a special case of generalizing calibration datasets across FFDM units, referred to as cross-calibration. Serial monitoring, BL updating, and cross-calibration techniques were developed and evaluated.

BL curves were established for three Hologic Selenia FFDM units at time zero. In addition, one set of serial phantom images, comprised of equal proportions of adipose and fibroglandular BTE materials (50/50 compositions) of a fixed height, was acquired biweekly and monitored with the cumulative sum (Cusum) technique. These 50/50 composition images were used to update the BL curves when the calibration accuracy degraded beyond a preset tolerance of ±4 standardized units. A second set of serial images, comprised of a wide-range of BTE compositions, was acquired biweekly to evaluate serial monitoring, BL updating, and cross-calibration techniques.

Calibration accuracy can degrade serially and is a function of acquisition technique and phantom height. The authors demonstrated that all heights could be monitored simultaneously while acquiring images of a 50/50 phantom with a fixed height for each acquisition technique biweekly, translating into approximately 16 image acquisitions biweekly per FFDM unit. The same serial images are sufficient for serial monitoring, BL updating, and cross-calibration. Serial calibration accuracy was maintained within ±4 standardized unit variation from the ideal when applying BL updating. BL updating is a special case of cross-calibration; the BL dataset of unit 1 can be converted to the BL dataset for another similar unit (i.e., unit 2) at any given time point using the 16 serial monitoring 50/50 phantom images of unit 2 (or vice versa) acquired near this time point while maintaining the ±4 standardized unit tolerance.

A methodology for monitoring and maintaining serial calibration accuracy for breast density measurements was evaluated. Calibration datasets for a given unit can be translated forward in time with minimal phantom imaging effort. Similarly, cross-calibration is a method for generalizing calibration datasets across similar units without additional phantom imaging. This methodology will require further evaluation with mammograms for complete validation.


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