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In Radiation oncology (London, England)

BACKGROUND : Whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT) can impair patients' cognitive function. Hippocampal avoidance during WBRT can potentially prevent this side effect. However, manually delineating the target area is time-consuming and difficult. Here, we proposed a credible approach of automatic hippocampal delineation based on convolutional neural networks.

METHODS : Referring to the hippocampus contouring atlas proposed by RTOG 0933, we manually delineated (MD) the hippocampus on the MRI data sets (3-dimensional T1-weighted with slice thickness of 1 mm, n = 175), which were used to construct a three-dimensional convolutional neural network aiming for the hippocampus automatic delineation (AD). The performance of this AD tool was tested on three cohorts: (a) 3D T1 MRI with 1-mm slice thickness (n = 30); (b) non-3D T1-weighted MRI with 3-mm slice thickness (n = 19); (c) non-3D T1-weighted MRI with 1-mm slice thickness (n = 11). All MRIs confirmed with normal hippocampus has not been violated by any disease. Virtual radiation plans were created for AD and MD hippocampi in cohort c to evaluate the clinical feasibility of the artificial intelligence approach. Statistical analyses were performed using SPSS version 23. P < 0.05 was considered significant.

RESULTS : The Dice similarity coefficient (DSC) and Average Hausdorff Distance (AVD) between the AD and MD hippocampi are 0.86 ± 0.028 and 0.18 ± 0.050 cm in cohort a, 0.76 ± 0.035 and 0.31 ± 0.064 cm in cohort b, 0.80 ± 0.015 and 0.24 ± 0.021 cm in cohort c, respectively. The DSC and AVD in cohort a were better than those in cohorts b and c (P < 0.01). There is no significant difference between the radiotherapy plans generated using the AD and MD hippocampi.

CONCLUSION : The AD of the hippocampus based on a deep learning algorithm showed satisfying results, which could have a positive impact on improving delineation accuracy and reducing work load.

Pan Kaicheng, Zhao Lei, Gu Song, Tang Yi, Wang Jiahao, Yu Wen, Zhu Lucheng, Feng Qi, Su Ruipeng, Xu Zhiyong, Li Xiadong, Ding Zhongxiang, Fu Xiaolong, Ma Shenglin, Yan Jun, Kang Shigong, Zhou Tao, Xia Bing


Artificial intelligence, Hippocampus, MRI