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J Appl Clin Med Phys


Deformable image registration (DIR) and interobserver variation inevitably intro-duce uncertainty into the treatment planning process. The purpose of the current work was to measure deformable image registration (DIR) errors and interobserver variability for regions of interest (ROIs) in the head and neck and pelvic regions. Measured uncertainties were combined to examine planning margin adequacy for contours propagated for adaptive therapy and to assess the trade-off of DIR and interobserver uncertainty in atlas-based automatic segmentation. Two experi-enced dosimetrists retrospectively contoured brainstem, spinal cord, anterior oral cavity, larynx, right and left parotids, optic nerves, and eyes on the planning CT (CT1) and attenuation-correction CT of diagnostic PET/CT (CT2) for 30 patients who received radiation therapy for head and neck cancer. Two senior radiation oncology residents retrospectively contoured prostate, bladder, and rectum on the postseed-implant CT (CT1) and planning CT (CT2) for 20 patients who received radiation therapy for prostate cancer. Interobserver variation was measured by calculating mean Hausdorff distances between the two observers' contours. CT2 was deformably registered to CT1 via commercially available multipass B-spline DIR. CT2 contours were propagated and compared with CT1 contours via mean Hausdorff distances. These values were summed in quadrature with interobserver variation for margin analysis and compared with interobserver variation for sta-tistical significance using two-tailed t-tests for independent samples (α = 0.05). Combined uncertainty ranged from 1.5-5.8 mm for head and neck structures and 3.1-3.7 mm for pelvic structures. Conventional 5 mm margins may not be adequate to cover this additional uncertainty. DIR uncertainty was significantly less than interobserver variation for four head and neck and one pelvic ROI. DIR uncertainty was not significantly different than interobserver variation for four head and neck and one pelvic ROI. DIR uncertainty was significantly greater than interobserver variation for two head and neck and one pelvic ROI. The introduction of DIR errors may offset any reduction in interobserver variation by using atlas-based automatic segmentation.

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Faculty, Northwell Resident, Northwell Researcher


School of Medicine; Northwell Health

Primary Department

Radiation Medicine





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Radiology Commons