Can the Future of Breast Imaging be Found in Monochromatic X-Ray?

The technique of monochromatic x-ray, when applied to breast imaging, dramatically reduces the radiation dose and greatly reduces the need for breast compression, especially for women with dense and thick breasts, found a study performed by Dr. Michael Fishman of Boston University and Madan Rehani, Ph. D. of Massachussetts General Hospital. The study was published September 18, 2021, in the European Journal of Radiology.

“Lowering radiation dose by a factor of 5 to 10 while maintaining image quality implies a major reduction in total exposure from breast cancer screening and dramatically less risk of radiation-induced cancers in at-risk women. The high SNRs [signal-to-noise ratios] for very thick breast phantoms provide strong evidence that screening with lower breast compression is possible while maintaining image quality,” they wrote.

“Rehani told that while the technology is ready for human imaging and has the potential to replace millions of x-ray tubes in the world currently in breast imaging, CT, fluoroscopy, and radiography machines. He also said more funding and clearances are needed before it can be widely accepted,” wrote Allegretto.

“‘There is a plan to upgrade technology to reduce exposure time which is again more of a financial issue rather than development of technology,’ [Rehani] said.” quoted Allegretto.


Michael D.C. Fishman, Madan M. Rehani. Monochromatic X-rays: The future of breast imaging. European Journal of Radiology November 2021. Available online September 18, 2021, at Accessed October 14, 2021.

Allegretto, Amerigo. Could monochromatic x-ray be the future of breast imaging? September 22, 2021, at Accessed October 14, 2021.

Tao, Siwei and He, Congxiao and Hao, Xiang and Kuang, Cuifang and Liu, Xu. Principles of Different X-ray Phase-Contrast Imaging: A Review. Applied Sciences. 2021 Volume 11 Number 7. Available online March 26, 2021, at Accessed October 14, 2021.

Figure 13 from “Principles of Different X-ray Phase-Contrast Imaging: A Review.” Used under CC-BY license. Citation is the third entry under Sources: in the article.