Geant4 physics list comparison for the simulation of phase-contrast mammography (XPulse project)

Published:March 28, 2019DOI:


      • Geant4 Standard EM option 4 and Livermore Physics Lists are in good agreement with EGSnrc in the energy range 20–100 keV.
      • We confirmed that breast dose in mammography screening can be minimised if a beam energy around 60 keV is used.
      • We confirmed that phase-contrast imaging is a promising technique for routine mammography screening.



      Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer in women. Early and accurate detection of the disease is a major factor in patient survival. To this end, phase-contrast imaging has gained significant interest in recent years. The aim of this work was to validate the physics models of a Geant4 mammography imaging simulation (in the context of the XPulse project) by comparing to EGSnrc results.


      We used three Geant4 electromagnetic physics lists of the version 10.4 of the toolkit: Standard, Livermore and Penelope. We calculated energy distributions in homogeneous and inhomogeneous phantoms and breast doses in DICOM images. The simulations used photon beams of energies 20–100 keV. The Geant4 calculations were compared with EGSnrc/DOSXYZnrc simulations.


      We found a very good agreement between the Standard Electromagnetic option 4 and Livermore Physics Lists (within 1% for all beam energies). Larger differences were found between Standard Electromagnetic option 4 and Penelope Physics Lists (about 4%). The agreement of longitudinal energy distributions between Geant4 Standard Electromagnetic option 4 and EGSnrc was good in water and light biological materials, but important discrepancies were found in heavy elements. We confirmed with both codes that dose to the breast is minimal at beam energy around 60 keV.


      Overall, we found good agreement between the option 4 of the Standard Electromagnetic physics list and Livermore physics lists of Geant4, as well as EGSnrc for materials relevant to mammography screening. Further investigations are needed for the case of heavier materials.


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