Breast arterial calcification is commonly detected on some mammograms. Previous studies indicate that breast arterial calcification is evidence of general atherosclerotic vascular disease and it may be a useful marker of coronary artery disease. It can potentially be a useful tool for assessment of coronary artery disease in women since mammography is widely used as a screening tool for early detection of breast cancer. However, there are currently no available techniques for quantification of calcium mass using mammography. The purpose of this study was to determine whether it is possible to quantify breast arterial calcium mass using standard digital mammography. An anthropomorphic breast phantom along with a vessel calcification phantom was imaged using a full field digital mammography system. Densitometry was used to quantify calcium mass. A calcium calibration measurement was performed at each phantom thickness and beam energy. The known (K) and measured (M) calcium mass on 5 and 9 cm thickness phantoms were related by M=0.964K-0.288 mg (r=0.997 and SEE=0.878 mg) and M=1.004K+0.324 mg (r=0.994 and SEE=1.32 mg), respectively. The results indicate that accurate calcium mass measurements can be made without correction for scatter glare as long as careful calcium calibration is made for each breast thickness. The results also indicate that composition variations and differences of approximately 1 cm between calibration phantom and breast thickness introduce only minimal error in calcium measurement. The uncertainty in magnification is expected to cause up to 5% and 15% error in calcium mass for 5 and 9 cm breast thicknesses, respectively. In conclusion, a densitometry technique for quantification of breast arterial calcium mass was validated using standard full field digital mammography. The results demonstrated the feasibility and potential utility of the densitometry technique for accurate quantification of breast arterial calcium mass using standard digital mammography.

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Medical Physics
Department of Physics

Molloi, S. (Sabee), Xu, T, Ducote, J. (Justin), & Iribarren, C. (Carlos). (2008). Quantification of breast arterial calcification using full field digital mammography. Medical Physics, 35(4), 1428–1439. doi:10.1118/1.2868756