Comparison of different commercial FFDM units by means of physical characterization and contrast-detail analysis

Stefano Rivetti, Nico Lanconelli, Renato Campanini, Marco Bertolini, Gianni Borasi, Andrea Nitrosi, Claudio Danielli, Lidia Angelini, Stefania Maggi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to perform a complete evaluation of three pieces of clinical digital mammography equipment. Image quality was assessed by performing physical characterization and contrast-detail (CD) analysis. We considered three different FFDM systems: a computed radiography unit (Fuji "FCR 5000 MA") and two flat-panel units, the indirect conversion a-Si based GE "Senographe 2000D" and the direct conversion a-Se based IMS "Giotto Image MD." The physical characterization was estimated by measuring the MTF, NNPS, and DQE of the detectors with no antiscatter grid and over the clinical range of exposures. The CD analysis was performed using a CDMAM 3.4 phantom and custom software designed for automatic computation of the contrast-detail curves. The physical characterization of the three digital systems confirms the excellent MTF properties of the direct conversion flat-panel detector (FPD). We performed a relative standard deviation (RSD) analysis, for investigating the different components of the noise presented by the three systems. It turned out that the two FPDs show a significant additive component, whereas for the CR system the statistical noise is dominant. The multiplicative factor is a minor constituent for all the systems. The two FPDs demonstrate better DQE, with respect to the CR system, for exposures higher than 70 μGy. The CD analysis indicated that the three systems are not statistically different for detail objects with a diameter greater than 0.3 mm. However, the IMS system showed a statistically significant different response for details smaller than 0.3 mm. In this case, the poor response of the a-Se detector could be attributed to its high-frequency noise characteristics, since its MTF, NEQ, and DQE are not inferior to those of the other systems. The CD results were independent of exposure level, within the investigated clinical range. We observed slight variations in the CD results, due to the changes in the visualization parameters (window/level and magnification factor). This suggests that radiologists would benefit from viewing images using varied window/level and magnification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4198-4209
Number of pages12
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Contrast-detail
  • Digital mammography
  • DQE
  • Image quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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