University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications


Penalized maximum likelihood reconstruction for improved microcalcification detection in breast tomosynthesis

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Radiology

Publication Date


Document Type



Biomedical Devices and Instrumentation | Diagnosis | Radiology


We examined the application of an iterative penalized maximum likelihood (PML) reconstruction method for improved detectability of microcalcifications (MCs) in digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT). Localized receiver operating characteristic (LROC) psychophysical studies with human observers and 2-D image slices were conducted to evaluate the performance of this reconstruction method and to compare its performance against the commonly used Feldkamp FBP algorithm. DBT projections were generated using rigorous computer simulations that included accurate modeling of the noise and detector blur. Acquisition dose levels of 0.7, 1.0, and 1.5 mGy in a 5-cm-thick compressed breast were tested. The defined task was to localize and detect MC clusters consisting of seven MCs. The individual MC diameter was 150 mum. Compressed-breast phantoms derived from CT images of actual mastectomy specimens provided realistic background structures for the detection task. Four observers each read 98 test images for each combination of reconstruction method and acquisition dose. All observers performed better with the PML images than with the FBP images. With the acquisition dose of 0.7 mGy, the average areas under the LROC curve (A(L)) for the PML and FBP algorithms were 0.69 and 0.43, respectively. For the 1.0-mGy dose, the values of A(L) were 0.93 (PML) and 0.7 (FBP), while the 1.5-mGy dose resulted in areas of 1.0 and 0.9, respectively, for the PML and FBP algorithms. A 2-D analysis of variance applied to the individual observer areas showed statistically significant differences (at a significance level of 0.05) between the reconstruction strategies at all three dose levels. There were no significant differences in observer performance for any of the dose levels.


Breast tomosynthesis, Penalised maximum likelihood, Dose, Microcalcifications

DOI of Published Version



Das M, Gifford HC, O'Connor JM, Glick SJ. Penalized maximum likelihood reconstruction for improved microcalcification detection in breast tomosynthesis. IEEE Trans Med Imaging. 2011 Apr;30(4):904-14. doi: 10.1109/TMI.2010.2089694. Epub 2010 Oct 28. PMID: 21041158; PMCID: PMC3398486. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

IEEE transactions on medical imaging

PubMed ID