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Med Phys. 2013 Feb;40(2):021722. doi: 10.1118/1.4789484.

Combining prior day contours to improve automated prostate segmentation.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA.



To improve the accuracy of automatically segmented prostate, rectum, and bladder contours required for online adaptive therapy. The contouring accuracy on the current image guidance [image guided radiation therapy (IGRT)] scan is improved by combining contours from earlier IGRT scans via the simultaneous truth and performance level estimation (STAPLE) algorithm.


Six IGRT prostate patients treated with daily kilo-voltage (kV) cone-beam CT (CBCT) had their original plan CT and nine CBCTs contoured by the same physician. Three types of automated contours were produced for analysis. (1) Plan: By deformably registering the plan CT to each CBCT and then using the resulting deformation field to morph the plan contours to match the CBCT anatomy. (2) Previous: The contour set drawn by the physician on the previous day CBCT is similarly deformed to match the current CBCT anatomy. (3) STAPLE: The contours drawn by the physician, on each prior CBCT and the plan CT, are deformed to match the CBCT anatomy to produce multiple contour sets. These sets are combined using the STAPLE algorithm into one optimal set.


Compared to plan and previous, STAPLE improved the average Dice's coefficient (DC) with the original physician drawn CBCT contours to a DC as follows: Bladder: 0.81 ± 0.13, 0.91 ± 0.06, and 0.92 ± 0.06; Prostate: 0.75 ± 0.08, 0.82 ± 0.05, and 0.84 ± 0.05; and Rectum: 0.79 ± 0.06, 0.81 ± 0.06, and 0.85 ± 0.04, respectively. The STAPLE results are within intraobserver consistency, determined by the physician blindly recontouring a subset of CBCTs. Comparing plans recalculated using the physician and STAPLE contours showed an average disagreement less than 1% for prostate D98 and mean dose, and 5% and 3% for bladder and rectum mean dose, respectively. One scan takes an average of 19 s to contour. Using five scans plus STAPLE takes less than 110 s on a 288 core graphics processor unit.


Combining the plan and all prior days via the STAPLE algorithm to produce treatment day contours is superior to the current standard of deforming only the plan contours to the daily CBCT. STAPLE also improves the precision, with a substantial decrease in standard deviation, a key for adaptive therapy. Geometrically and dosimetrically accurate contours can be automatically generated with STAPLE on prostate region kV CBCT in a time scale suitable for online adaptive therapy.

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