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Proceedings Paper

Using non-specialist observers in 4AFC human observer studies
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Paper Abstract

Virtual clinical trials (VCTs) are an emergent approach for rapid evaluation and comparison of various breast imaging technologies and techniques using computer-based modeling tools. Increasingly 4AFC (Four alternative forced choice) virtual clinical trials are used to compare detection performances of different breast imaging modalities. Most prior studies have used physicists and/or radiologists and physicists interchangeably. However, large scale use of statistically significant 4AFC observer studies is challenged by the individual time commitment and cost of such observers, often drawn from a limited local pool of specialists. This work aims to investigate whether non-specialist observers can be used to supplement such studies. A team of five specialist observers (medical physicists) and five non-specialists participated in a 4AFC study containing simulated 2D-mammography and DBT (digital breast tomosynthesis) images, produced using the OPTIMAM toolbox for VCTs. The images contained 4mm irregular solid masses and 4mm spherical targets at a range of contrast levels embedded in a realistic breast phantom background. There was no statistically significant difference between the detection performance of medical physicists and non-specialists (p>0.05). However, non-specialists took longer to complete the study than their physicist counterparts, which was statistically significant (p<0.05). Overall, the results from both observer groups indicate that DBT has a lower detectable threshold contrast than 2D-mammography for both masses and spheres, and both groups found spheres easier to detect than irregular solid masses.

Paper Details

Date Published: 9 March 2017
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 10132, Medical Imaging 2017: Physics of Medical Imaging, 1013256 (9 March 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2255560
Show Author Affiliations
Premkumar Elangovan, Univ. of Surrey (United Kingdom)
Alistair Mackenzie, Royal Surrey County Hospital (United Kingdom)
David R. Dance, Royal Surrey County Hospital (United Kingdom)
Univ. of Surrey (United Kingdom)
Kenneth C. Young, Royal Surrey County Hospital (United Kingdom)
Univ. of Surrey (United Kingdom)
Kevin Wells, Univ. of Surrey (United Kingdom)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10132:
Medical Imaging 2017: Physics of Medical Imaging
Thomas G. Flohr; Joseph Y. Lo; Taly Gilat Schmidt, Editor(s)

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