Breast tomosynthesis: a new mammography

Breast tomosynthesis is a 3-dimensional (3-D) imaging technology that involves acquiring images of a compressed breast at multiple angles during a short scan. It is more comfortable than standard mammography. The individual images are then reconstructed into a series of thin high-resolution slices that displayed individually or in a dynamic movie-like mode. Tomosynthesis can reduce or eliminate the tissue overlap effect. While holding the breast stationary, images are acquired at a number of different x-ray source angles. Objects at different heights in the breast project differently for each angle. The final step in the tomosynthesis procedure takes advantage of this fact and reconstructs the data to generate images that enhance objects from a given height by appropriate shifting of the projections relative to one another. Tomosynthesis has many properties that make it suitable as a modality for screening, including good diagnostic performance, short examination time and low radiation dose. It may become a strong competitor to the current gold standard breast screening modality, i.e. mammography. At the same time, theoretical advantages have not yet been shown to translate into clinical advantage or even equivalence to standard mammography.

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