Evaluation of low-energy contrast-enhanced spectral mammography images by comparing them to full-field digital mammography using EUREF image quality criteria

U.C. Lalji, C.R.L.P.N. Jeukens, I. Houben, P.J. Nelemans, R.E. van Engen, E. van Wylick, R.G.H. Beets-Tan, J.E. Wildberger, L.E. Paulis, M.B.I. Lobbes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

78 Citations (Web of Science)


Contrast-enhanced spectral mammography (CESM) examination results in a low-energy (LE) and contrast-enhanced image. The LE appears similar to a full-field digital mammogram (FFDM). Our aim was to evaluate LE CESM image quality by comparing it to FFDM using criteria defined by the European Reference Organization for Quality Assured Breast Screening and Diagnostic Services (EUREF).

A total of 147 cases with both FFDM and LE images were independently scored by two experienced radiologists using these (20) EUREF criteria. Contrast detail measurements were performed using a dedicated phantom. Differences in image quality scores, average glandular dose, and contrast detail measurements between LE and FFDM were tested for statistical significance.

No significant differences in image quality scores were observed between LE and FFDM images for 17 out of 20 criteria. LE scored significantly lower on one criterion regarding the sharpness of the pectoral muscle (p <0.001), and significantly better on two criteria on the visualization of micro-calcifications (p = 0.02 and p = 0.034). Dose and contrast detail measurements did not reveal any physical explanation for these observed differences.

Low-energy CESM images are non-inferior to FFDM images. From this perspective FFDM can be omitted in patients with an indication for CESM.

Low-energy CESM images are non-inferior to FFDM images.

Micro-calcifications are significantly more visible on LE CESM than on FFDM.

There is no physical explanation for this improved visibility of micro-calcifications.

There is no need for an extra FFDM when CESM is indicated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2813-2820
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Radiology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


  • Breast cancer
  • Mammography
  • Quality control
  • CESM
  • CEDM

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