Mammography is the gold standard in routine screening for the detection of breast cancer in the general population. However, limitations in sensitivity, particularly in dense breasts, has motivated the development of alternative imaging techniques such as digital breast tomosynthesis, whole breast ultrasound, breast-specific gamma imaging, and more recently dedicated breast computed tomography or "breast CT". Virtually all diagnostic work-ups of asymptomatic nonpalpable findings arise from screening mammography. In most cases, diagnostic mammography and ultrasound are sufficient for diagnosis, with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) playing an occasional role. Digital breast tomosynthesis, a limited-angle tomographic technique, is increasingly being used for screening. Dedicated breast CT has full three-dimensional (3D) capability with near-isotropic resolution, which could potentially improve diagnostic accuracy. In current dedicated breast CT clinical prototypes, 300-500 low-dose projections are acquired in a circular trajectory around the breast using a flat panel detector, followed by image reconstruction to provide the 3D breast volume. The average glandular dose to the breast from breast CT can range from as little as a two-view screening mammogram to approximately that of a diagnostic mammography examination. Breast CT displays 3D images of the internal structures of the breast; therefore, evaluation of suspicious features like microcalcifications, masses, and asymmetries can be made in multiple anatomical planes from a single scan. The potential role of breast CT for diagnostic imaging is illustrated here through clinical examples such as imaging soft tissue abnormalities and microcalcifications. The potential for breast CT to serve as an imaging tool for extent of disease evaluation and for monitoring neo-adjuvant chemotherapy response is also illustrated.
- breast CT
- cone beam computed tomography
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine