Planar molecular breast imaging (MBI) is rapidly gaining in popularity in diagnostic oncology. To add 3D capabilities, we introduce a novel molecular breast tomosynthesis (MBT) scanner concept based on multi-pinhole collimation. In our design, the patient lies prone with the pendant breast lightly compressed between transparent plates. Integrated webcams view the breast through these plates and allow the operator to designate the scan volume (e.g. a whole breast or a suspected region). The breast is then scanned by translating focusing multi-pinhole plates and NaI(Tl) gamma detectors together in a sequence that optimizes count yield from the volume-of-interest. With simulations, we compared MBT with existing planar MBI. In a breast phantom containing different lesions, MBT improved tumour-to-background contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) over planar MBI by 12% and 111% for 4.0 and 6.0 mm lesions respectively in case of whole breast scanning. For the same lesions, much larger CNR improvements of 92% and 241% over planar MBI were found in a scan that focused on a breast region containing several lesions. MBT resolved 3.0 mm rods in a Derenzo resolution phantom in the transverse plane compared to 2.5 mm rods distinguished by planar MBI. While planar MBI cannot provide depth information, MBT offered 4.0 mm depth resolution. Our simulations indicate that besides offering 3D localization of increased tracer uptake, multi-pinhole MBT can significantly increase tumour-to-background CNR compared to planar MBI. These properties could be promising for better estimating the position, extend and shape of lesions and distinguishing between single and multiple lesions.
- breast imaging