Radiation doses in cone-beam breast computed tomography: A Monte Carlo simulation study

Ying Yi, Chao Jen Lai, Tao Han, Yuncheng Zhong, Youtao Shen, Xinming Liu, Shuaiping Ge, Zhicheng You, Tianpeng Wang, Chris C. Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Purpose: In this article, we describe a method to estimate the spatial dose variation, average dose and mean glandular dose (MGD) for a real breast using Monte Carlo simulation based on cone beam breast computed tomography (CBBCT) images. We present and discuss the dose estimation results for 19 mastectomy breast specimens, 4 homogeneous breast models, 6 ellipsoidal phantoms, and 6 cylindrical phantoms. Methods: To validate the Monte Carlo method for dose estimation in CBBCT, we compared the Monte Carlo dose estimates with the thermoluminescent dosimeter measurements at various radial positions in two polycarbonate cylinders (11- and 15-cm in diameter). Cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) images of 19 mastectomy breast specimens, obtained with a bench-top experimental scanner, were segmented and used to construct 19 structured breast models. Monte Carlo simulation of CBBCT with these models was performed and used to estimate the point doses, average doses, and mean glandular doses for unit open air exposure at the iso-center. Mass based glandularity values were computed and used to investigate their effects on the average doses as well as the mean glandular doses. Average doses for 4 homogeneous breast models were estimated and compared to those of the corresponding structured breast models to investigate the effect of tissue structures. Average doses for ellipsoidal and cylindrical digital phantoms of identical diameter and height were also estimated for various glandularity values and compared with those for the structured breast models. Results: The absorbed dose maps for structured breast models show that doses in the glandular tissue were higher than those in the nearby adipose tissue. Estimated average doses for the homogeneous breast models were almost identical to those for the structured breast models (p=1). Normalized average doses estimated for the ellipsoidal phantoms were similar to those for the structured breast models (root mean square (rms) percentage difference=1.7%; p=0.01), whereas those for the cylindrical phantoms were significantly lower (rms percentage difference=7.7%; p<0.01). Normalized MGDs were found to decrease with increasing glandularity. Conclusions: Our results indicate that it is sufficient to use homogeneous breast models derived from CBCT generated structured breast models to estimate the average dose. This investigation also shows that ellipsoidal digital phantoms of similar dimensions (diameter and height) and glandularity to actual breasts may be used to represent a real breast to estimate the average breast dose with Monte Carlo simulation. We have also successfully demonstrated the use of structured breast models to estimate the true MGDs and shown that the normalized MGDs decreased with the glandularity as previously reported by other researchers for CBBCT or mammography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)589-597
Number of pages9
JournalMedical physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Monte Carlo
  • breast cancer
  • breast imaging
  • cone-beam computed tomography
  • radiation dose

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'Radiation doses in cone-beam breast computed tomography: A Monte Carlo simulation study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this