Objective models of compressed breast shapes undergoing mammography

Steve Si Jia Feng, Bhavika Patel, Ioannis Sechopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Purpose: To develop models of compressed breasts undergoing mammography based on objective analysis, that are capable of accurately representing breast shapes in acquired clinical images and generating new, clinically realistic shapes. Methods: An automated edge detection algorithm was used to catalogue the breast shapes of clinically acquired cranio-caudal (CC) and medio-lateral oblique (MLO) view mammograms from a large database of digital mammography images. Principal component analysis (PCA) was performed on these shapes to reduce the information contained within the shapes to a small number of linearly independent variables. The breast shape models, one of each view, were developed from the identified principal components, and their ability to reproduce the shape of breasts from an independent set of mammograms not used in the PCA, was assessed both visually and quantitatively by calculating the average distance error (ADE). Results: The PCA breast shape models of the CC and MLO mammographic views based on six principal components, in which 99.2% and 98.0%, respectively, of the total variance of the dataset is contained, were found to be able to reproduce breast shapes with strong fidelity (CC view mean ADE = 0.90 mm, MLO view mean ADE = 1.43 mm) and to generate new clinically realistic shapes. The PCA models based on fewer principal components were also successful, but to a lesser degree, as the two-component model exhibited a mean ADE = 2.99 mm for the CC view, and a mean ADE = 4.63 mm for the MLO view. The four-component models exhibited a mean ADE = 1.47 mm for the CC view and a mean ADE = 2.14 mm for the MLO view. Paired t-tests of the ADE values of each image between models showed that these differences were statistically significant (max p-value = 0.0247). Visual examination of modeled breast shapes confirmed these results. Histograms of the PCA parameters associated with the six principal components were fitted with Gaussian distributions. The six-component model was also used to generate CC and MLO view mammogram breast shapes, using the mean PCA parameter values of these distributions and randomly generated values based on the fitted Gaussian distributions, which resemble clinically encountered breasts. A spreadsheet with the data necessary to apply this model is provided as the supplementary material. Conclusions: Our PCA models of breast shapes in both mammographic views successfully reproduce analyzed breast shapes and generate new clinically relevant shapes. This work can aid in research applications which incorporate breast shape modeling, such as x-ray scatter correction, dosimetry, and image registration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number031902
JournalMedical physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • breast cancer
  • mammography
  • principal component analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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