4 years ago

Comparison of synthetic mammography, reconstructed from digital breast tomosynthesis, and digital mammography: evaluation of lesion conspicuity and BI-RADS assessment categories

Alberto Tagliafico, Giovanni Gandini, Manuela Durando, Giovanna Mariscotti, Cristina Casella, Laura Bergamasco, Nehmat Houssami, Camilla Bogetti, Davide Bosco, Paolo Fonio, Mirella Fasciano



To compare the interpretive performance of synthetic mammography (SM), reconstructed from digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT), and full-field digital mammography (FFDM) in a diagnostic setting, covering different conditions of breast density and mammographic signs.


A retrospective analysis was conducted on 231 patients, who underwent FFDM and DBT (from which SM images were reconstructed) between September 2014–September 2015. The study included 250 suspicious breast lesions, all biopsy proven: 148 (59.2%) malignant and 13 (5.2%) high-risk lesions were confirmed by surgery, 89 (35.6%) benign lesions had radiological follow-up. Two breast radiologists, blinded to histology, independently reviewed all cases. Readings were performed with SM alone, then with FFDM, collecting data on: probability of malignancy for each finding, lesion conspicuity, mammographic features and dimensions of detected lesions.


Agreement between readers was good for BI-RADS classification (Cohen’s k-coefficient = 0.93 ± 0.02) and for lesion dimension (Wilcoxon’s p = 0.76). Visibility scores assigned to SM and FFDM for each lesion were similar for non-dense and dense breasts, however, there were significant differences (p = 0.0009) in distribution of mammographic features subgroups. SM and FFDM had similar sensitivities in non-dense (respectively 94 vs. 91%) and dense breasts (88 vs. 80%) and for all mammographic signs (93 vs. 87% for asymmetric densities, 96 vs. 75% for distortion, 92 vs. 85% for microcalcifications, and both 94% for masses). Based on all data, there was a significant difference in sensitivity for SM (92%) vs. FFDM (87%), p = 0.02, whereas the two modalities yielded similar results for specificity (SM: 60%, FFDM: 62%, p = 0.21).


SM alone showed similar interpretive performance to FFDM, confirming its potential role as an alternative to FFDM in women having tomosynthesis, with the added advantage of halving the patient’s dose exposure.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10549-017-4458-3

DOI: 10.1007/s10549-017-4458-3

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