Analysis of optical density and contrast in mammograms.
The objective of this project is the development of tools for the UK NHSBSP to assess image quality quantitatively in clinical films, for the purposes of optimizing imaging procedures and audit. As an initial step, 120 mammograms of 46 women on a single day of screening were digitized and analysed to produce indices of optical density (OD) and contrast. Analysis was performed on three regions of interest (ROI): pectoral muscle, main breast and skin edge. Two radiologists independently graded the quality of information in the different parts of each mammogram, and categorized breast type as either "dense", "mixed density" or "fatty". Measurements of contrast and OD generally correlated well with the opinions of the radiologists. For the oblique mammograms, the mean OD in the main breast ranged between films from 1.25 to 2.24 with a mean of 1.69 +/- 0.02. In the craniocaudal mammograms, the mean OD in the main breast ROI ranged from 1.14 to 1.94 with a mean of 1.61 +/- 0.05. The OD for a quality control film of a 40 mm block of PMMA exposed on the same day with this system was 1.53. A contrast index (CI) was calculated for each mammogram as the difference between the points of maximum and minimum OD in the main breast. Mean CI was 1.02 +/- 0.09 for fatty breasts, 1.50 +/- 0.10 for mixed density breasts and 2.05 +/- 0.23 for dense breasts. A review of the radiologist assessments indicated that the main breast was satisfactorily displayed when glandular and fatty tissues were displayed within the OD range 0.8-2.9. An analysis of the dynamic range requirements showed that 17% of films had a dynamic range that lay above that calculated using the suggested OD limits.