Date of this Version



breast, computer simulation, imaging, mammography, phantom


Research in the processing, compression, transmission, and interpretation of digital radiographic images requires evaluation of a wide variety of test images, varying in format, in spatial resolution, and in anatomic content. To evaluate the diagnostic performance of observers using novel versus conventional image formats, large numbers of test images containing known abnormalities are required. This report describes a method for creating high resolution, virtual digital mammograms from computational models of the human breast that include branched lobulated ducts and suspensory ligaments embedded in fatty subcutaneous tissue. Breast phantoms may include any of three types of simulated tumors (fibroadenomas, invasive ductal carcinomas, and intraductal carcinomas). Virtual mammograms are generated by computing x-ray transmission through a mathematically defined, three dimensional tissue space according to Beer's Law, using a fast ray-tracing algorithm. The resulting test images are adequately realistic, inexpensive, and reproducible at any desired resolution. They may contain precisely defined and localized abnormalities of unlimited subtlety. This approach provides a flexible, easy-to-use research tool to explore digital techniques in mammography, as well as a potential aid to training of radiologists in early breast cancer detection.