Technical Note: Validation of two methods to determine contact area between breast and compression paddle in mammography

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Abstract

Purpose:

To assess the accuracy of two methods of determining the contact area between the compression paddle and the breast in mammography. An accurate method to determine the contact area is essential to accurately calculate the average compression pressure applied by the paddle.

Methods:

For a set of 300 breast compressions, we measured the contact areas between breast and paddle, both capacitively using a transparent foil with indium-tin-oxide (ITO) coating attached to the paddle, and retrospectively from the obtained mammograms using image processing software (Volpara Enterprise, algorithm version 1.5.2). A gold standard was obtained from video images of the compressed breast. During each compression, the breast was illuminated from the sides in order to create a dark shadow on the video image where the breast was in contact with the compression paddle. We manually segmented the shadows captured at the time of x-ray exposure and measured their areas.

Results:

We found a strong correlation between the manual segmentations and the capacitive measurements [r = 0.989, 95% CI (0.987, 0.992)] and between the manual segmentations and the image processing software [r = 0.978, 95% CI (0.972, 0.982)]. Bland–Altman analysis showed a bias of −0.0038 dm2 for the capacitive measurement (SD 0.0658, 95% limits of agreement [−0.1329, 0.1252]) and −0.0035 dm2 for the image processing software [SD 0.0962, 95% limits of agreement (−0.1921, 0.1850)].

Conclusions:

The size of the contact area between the paddle and the breast can be determined accurately and precisely, both in real-time using the capacitive method, and retrospectively using image processing software. This result is beneficial for scientific research, data analysis and quality control systems that depend on one of these two methods for determining the average pressure on the breast during mammographic compression.

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