Automated delineation of radiotherapy volumes: are we going in the right direction?
AffiliationThe Christie Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester
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AbstractRapid and accurate delineation of target volumes and multiple organs at risk, within the enduring International Commission on Radiation Units and Measurement framework, is now hugely important in radiotherapy, owing to the rapid proliferation of intensity-modulated radiotherapy and the advent of four-dimensional image-guided adaption. Nevertheless, delineation is still generally clinically performed with little if any machine assistance, even though it is both time-consuming and prone to interobserver variation. Currently available segmentation tools include those based on image greyscale interrogation, statistical shape modelling and body atlas-based methods. However, all too often these are not able to match the accuracy of the expert clinician, which remains the universally acknowledged gold standard. In this article we suggest that current methods are fundamentally limited by their lack of ability to incorporate essential human clinical decision-making into the underlying models. Hybrid techniques that utilise prior knowledge, make sophisticated use of greyscale information and allow clinical expertise to be integrated are needed. This may require a change in focus from automated segmentation to machine-assisted delineation. Similarly, new metrics of image quality reflecting fitness for purpose would be extremely valuable. We conclude that methods need to be developed to take account of the clinician's expertise and honed visual processing capabilities as much as the underlying, clinically meaningful information content of the image data being interrogated. We illustrate our observations and suggestions through our own experiences with two software tools developed as part of research council-funded projects.
CitationAutomated delineation of radiotherapy volumes: are we going in the right direction? 2013, 86 (1021):20110718 Br J Radiol
JournalBritish Journal of Radiology
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