IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING, vol.62, no.2, pp.688-698, 2015 (SCI-Expanded)
In this paper we present an effective method for developing realistic numerical three-dimensional (3-D) microwave breast models of different shape, size, and tissue density. These models are especially convenient for microwave breast cancer imaging applications and numerical analysis of human breast-microwave interactions. As in the recent studies on this area, anatomical information of the breast tissue is collected from T1-weighted 3-D MRI data of different patients' in prone position. The method presented in this paper offers significant improvements including efficient noise reduction and tissue segmentation, nonlinear mapping of electromagnetic properties, realistically asymmetric phantom shape, and a realistic classification of breast phantoms. Our method contains a five-step approach where each MRI voxel is classified and mapped to the appropriate dielectric properties. In the first step, the MRI data are denoised by estimating and removing the bias field from each slice, after which the voxels are segmented into two main tissues as fibro-glandular and adipose. Using the distribution of the voxel intensities in MRI histogram, two nonlinear mapping functions are generated for dielectric permittivity and conductivity profiles, which allow each MRI voxel to map to its proper dielectric properties. Obtained dielectric profiles are then converted into 3-D numerical breast phantoms using several image processing techniques, including morphologic operations, filtering. Resultant phantoms are classified according to their adipose content, which is a critical parameter that affects penetration depth during microwave breast imaging.