Geometric and dosimetric evaluations of atlas-based segmentation methods of MR images in the head and neck region

Abstract : Owing to its excellent soft-tissue contrast, magnetic resonance (MR) imaging has found an increased application in radiation therapy (RT). Harnessing these properties for treatment planning, automated segmentation methods can alleviate the manual workload burden to the clinical workflow. We investigated atlas-based segmentation methods of organs at risk (OARs) in the head and neck (H&N) region: one approach selecting the most similar atlas from a library of segmented images and two multi-atlas approaches. The latter were based on weighted majority voting and an iterative atlas-fusion approach called STEPS. We built the atlas library from pre-treatment T1-weighted MR images of 12 patients with manual contours of the parotids, spinal cord and mandible, delineated by a clinician. Following a leave-one-out cross-validation strategy, we measured geometric accuracy calculating Dice similarity coefficients (DSC), standard and 95% Hausdorff distances (HD and HD95), as well as the mean surface distance (MSD), whereby the manual contours served as the gold standard. To benchmark the algorithm, we determined the inter-expert variability (IEV) between three experts. To investigate the dosimetric effect of segmentation inaccuracies, we implemented an auto-planning strategy within the treatment planning system Monaco (Elekta AB, Stockholm, Sweden). For each set of auto-segmented volumes of interest (VOIs), we generated a plan for a 9-beam step and shoot intensity modulated RT treatment, designed according to our institution's clinical H&N protocol. Superimposing the dose distributions on the gold standard VOIs, we calculated dose differences to OARs caused by contouring differences between auto-segmented and gold standard VOIs. We investigated the correlation between geometric and dosimetric differences. The mean DSC was larger than 0.8 and the mean MSD smaller than 2mm for the multi-atlas approaches, resulting in a geometric accuracy comparable to previously published results and within the range of the IEV. While dosimetric differences could be as large as 23% of the clinical goal, treatment plans fulfilled all imposed clinical goals for the gold standard OARs. Correlations between geometric and dosimetric measures were low with R^\textrm2\textless0.5. The geometric accuracy and ability to achieve clinically acceptable treatment plans indicate the suitability of using atlas-based contours for RT treatment planning purposes. The low correlations between geometric and dosimetric measures indicate that geometric measures alone are not sufficient to predict the dosimetric impact of segmentation inaccuracies on treatment planning for the data utilised in this study.
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Jennifer Petra Kieselmann, Cornelis Philippus Kamerling, Ninon Burgos, Martin J. Menten, Clifton David Fuller, et al.. Geometric and dosimetric evaluations of atlas-based segmentation methods of MR images in the head and neck region. Physics in Medicine and Biology, IOP Publishing, 2018, 63 (14), ⟨10.1088/1361-6560/aacb65⟩. ⟨hal-01827187⟩

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