Evaluation of diffusion weighted imaging for tumor delineation in head-and-neck radiotherapy by comparison with automatically segmented 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography

Academic Article


  • Background and purpose: Diffusion weighted (DW) MRI may facilitate target volume delineation for head-and-neck (HN) radiation treatment planning. In this study we assessed the use of a dedicated, geometrically accurate, DW-MRI sequence for target volume delineation. The delineations were compared with semi-automatic segmentations on 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) images and evaluated for interobserver variation. Methods and materials: Fifteen HN cancer patients underwent both DW-MRI and FDG-PET for RT treatment planning. Target delineation on DW-MRI was performed by three observers, while for PET a semi-automatic segmentation was performed using a Gaussian mixture model. For interobserver variation and intermodality variation, volumes, overlap metrics and Hausdorff distances were calculated from the delineations. Results: The median volumes delineated by the three observers on DW-MRI were 10.8, 10.5 and 9.0 cm3 respectively, and was larger than the median PET volume (8.0 cm3). The median conformity index of DW-MRI for interobserver variation was 0.73 (range 0.38–0.80). Compared to PET, the delineations on DW-MRI by the three observers showed a median dice similarity coefficient of 0.71, 0.69 and 0.72 respectively. The mean Hausdorff distance was small with median (range) distances between PET and DW-MRI of 2.3 (1.5–6.8), 2.5 (1.6–6.9) and 2.0 (1.35–7.6) mm respectively. Over all patients, the median 95th percentile distances were 6.0 (3.0–13.4), 6.6 (4.0–24.0) and 5.3 (3.4–26.0) mm. Conclusion: Using a dedicated DW-MRI sequence, target volumes could be defined with good interobserver agreement and a good overlap with PET. Target volume delineation using DW-MRI is promising in head-and-neck radiotherapy, combined with other modalities, it can lead to more precise target volume delineation.
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  • Schakel T; Peltenburg B; Dankbaar JW; Cardenas CE; Aristophanous M; Terhaard CHJ; Hoogduin JM; Philippens MEP
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