Radiation dose with digital breast tomosynthesis compared to digital mammography: per-view analysis

Gisella Gennaro, D. Bernardi, N. Houssami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To compare radiation dose delivered by digital mammography (FFDM) and breast tomosynthesis (DBT) for a single view. Methods: 4,780 FFDM and 4,798 DBT images from 1,208 women enrolled in a screening trial were used to ground dose comparison. Raw images were processed by an automatic software to determine volumetric breast density (VBD) and were used together with exposure data to compute the mean glandular dose (MGD) according to Dance’s model. DBT and FFDM were compared in terms of operation of the automatic exposure control (AEC) and MGD level. Results: Statistically significant differences were found between FFDM and DBT MGDs for all views (CC: MGDFFDM=1.366 mGy, MGDDBT=1.858 mGy; p<0.0001; MLO: MGDFFDM=1.374 mGy, MGDDBT=1.877 mGy; p<0.0001). Considering the 4,768 paired views, Bland-Altman analysis showed that the average increase of DBT dose compared to FFDM is 38 %, and a range between 0 % and 75 %. Conclusions: Our findings show a modest increase of radiation dose to the breast by tomosynthesis compared to FFDM. Given the emerging role of DBT, its use in conjunction with synthetic 2D images should not be deterred by concerns regarding radiation burden, and should draw on evidence of potential clinical benefit. Key Points: • Most studies compared tomosynthesis in combination with mammography vs. mammography alone. • There is some concern about the dose increase with tomosynthesis. • Clinical data show a small increase in radiation dose with tomosynthesis. • Synthetic 2D images from tomosynthesis at zero dose reduce potential harm. • The small dose increase should not be a barrier to use of tomosynthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-581
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Radiology
Issue number2
Early online dateAug 17 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2018


  • Breast cancer
  • Breast tomosynthesis
  • Mammography
  • Radiation dose
  • Screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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