3-D Stochastic Numerical Breast Phantoms for Enabling Virtual Imaging Trials of Ultrasound Computed Tomography

Fu Li, Umberto Villa, Seonyeong Park, Mark A. Anastasio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ultrasound computed tomography (USCT) is an emerging imaging modality for breast imaging that can produce quantitative images that depict the acoustic properties of tissues. Computer-simulation studies, also known as virtual imaging trials, provide researchers with an economical and convenient route to systematically explore imaging system designs and image reconstruction methods. When simulating an imaging technology intended for clinical use, it is essential to employ realistic numerical phantoms that can facilitate the objective, or task-based, assessment of image quality (IQ). Moreover, when computing objective IQ measures, an ensemble of such phantoms should be employed, which displays the variability in anatomy and object properties that are representative of the to-be-imaged patient cohort. Such stochastic phantoms for clinically relevant applications of USCT are currently lacking. In this work, a methodology for producing realistic 3-D numerical breast phantoms for enabling clinically relevant computer-simulation studies of USCT breast imaging is presented. By extending and adapting an existing stochastic 3-D breast phantom for use with USCT, methods for creating ensembles of numerical acoustic breast phantoms are established. These breast phantoms will possess clinically relevant variations in breast size, composition, acoustic properties, tumor locations, and tissue textures. To demonstrate the use of the phantoms in virtual USCT studies, two brief case studies are presented, which addresses the development and assessment of image reconstruction procedures. Examples of breast phantoms produced by use of the proposed methods and a collection of 52 sets of simulated USCT measurement data have been made open source for use in image reconstruction development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-146
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • Acoustics
  • Breast
  • image reconstruction
  • Imaging
  • Imaging phantoms
  • numerical breast phantoms
  • Phantoms
  • Shape
  • Three-dimensional displays
  • Ultrasound computed tomography
  • virtual imaging trials
  • numerical breast phantoms (NBPs)
  • Image reconstruction
  • virtual imaging trials (VITs)
  • ultrasound computed tomography (USCT)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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