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Breast Cancer Research

Volume 4 Supplement 1

Symposium Mammographicum 2002

Open Access

Assessment of full field digital mammography (FFDM) detected microcalcification is not hindered by low spatial resolution

  • L Bartella1,
  • N Perry1,
  • KC Young1,
  • CP Lawinski1 and
  • D Evans1
Breast Cancer Research20024(Suppl 1):21

Published: 1 July 2002


Lower Spatial ResolutionDigital UnitMammography SystemFull Field Digital MammographyContrast Detail


Full field digital mammography (FFDM) seems set to replace conventional film-screen technique. Concern has been raised over FFDM diminished spatial resolution (5–6 Ip/mm). If valid, this could compromise detection of calcification and diagnosis of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). However, in our centre we were not able to perceive any difference between microfocus magnification and on-screen magnification when assessing microcalcification.


To evaluate replacement of analogue microfocus technique by on-screen digital magnification for microcalcification, and to analyse the relative importance of spatial resolution versus contrast detail test scores.


We performed phantom image quality testing on our digital unit (GE 2000D), using the TORMAX and TORMAM phantoms. We subsequently compared these results with average scores for over 90 film-screen mammography systems.


Although our digital unit had a lower spatial resolution (6–7 Ip/mm) than the film-screen systems (up to 15 Ip/mm), both TORMAX and TORMAM scores were superior for digital soft-copy reporting compared to hard-copy reporting, film-screen technique and analogue microfocus magnification.


Despite lower spatial resolution, the superior contrast and image manipulation abilities of FFDM obviate the need for conventional microfocus magnification in the radiographic work up of microcalcifications. Sufficient information is provided on FFDM upon which to base a decision to proceed to diagnostic interventional procedures such as core biopsy or mammotome excision.

Authors’ Affiliations

NHS Breast Screening Programme and The Princess Grace Hospital, London, UK


© BioMed Central 2002