Three algorithms for breast tomosynthesis reconstruction were compared in this paper, including (1) a back-projection (BP) algorithm (equivalent to the shift-and-add algorithm), (2) a Feldkamp filtered back-projection (FBP) algorithm, and (3) an iterative Maximum Likelihood (ML) algorithm. Our breast tomosynthesis system acquires 11 low-dose projections over a 50 degree angular range using an a-Si (CsI:Tl) flat-panel detector. The detector was stationary during the acquisition. Quality metrics such as signal difference to noise ratio (SDNR) and artifact spread function (ASF) were used for quantitative evaluation of tomosynthesis reconstructions. The results of the quantitative evaluation were in good agreement with the results of the qualitative assessment. In patient imaging, the superimposed breast tissues observed in two-dimensional (2D) mammograms were separated in tomosynthesis reconstructions by all three algorithms. It was shown in both phantom imaging and patient imaging that the BP algorithm provided the best SDNR for low-contrast masses but the conspicuity of the feature details was limited by interplane artifacts; the FBP algorithm provided the highest edge sharpness for microcalcifications but the quality of masses was poor; the information of both the masses and the microcalcifications were well restored with balanced quality by the ML algorithm, superior to the results from the other two algorithms.
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