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In Medical physics ; h5-index 59.0

BACKGROUND : Online adaptive radiation therapy (RT) using hybrid magnetic resonance linear accelerators (MR-Linacs) can administer a tailored radiation dose at each treatment fraction. Daily MR imaging followed by organ and target segmentation adjustments allow to capture anatomical changes, improve target volume coverage and reduce the risk of side effects. The introduction of automatic segmentation techniques could help to further improve the online adaptive workflow by shortening the re-contouring time and reducing intra- and inter-observer variability. In fractionated RT prior knowledge, such as planning images and manual expert contours, is usually available before irradiation, but not used by current artificial intelligence-based autocontouring approaches.

PURPOSE : The goal of this study was to train convolutional neural networks (CNNs) for automatic segmentation of bladder, rectum (organs at risk, OARs) and clinical target volume (CTV) for prostate cancer patients treated at 0.35 T MR-Linacs. Furthermore, we tested the CNNs generalization on data from independent facilities and compared them with the MR-Linac treatment planning system (TPS) propagated structures currently used in clinics. Finally, expert planning delineations were utilized for patient- (PS) and facility-specific (FS) transfer learning to improve auto-segmentation of CTV and OARs on fraction images.

METHODS : In this study, data from fractionated treatments at 0.35 T MR-Linacs were leveraged to develop a 3D U-Net-based automatic segmentation. Cohort C1 had 73 planning images and cohort C2 had 19 planning and 240 fraction images. The baseline models (BMs) were trained solely on C1 planning data using 53 MRIs for training and 10 for validation. To assess their accuracy the models were tested on three data subsets: (i) 10 C1 planning images not used for training, (ii) 19 C2 planning, and (iii) 240 C2 fraction images. BMs also served as a starting point for FS and PS transfer learning, where the planning images from C2 were used for network parameter fine tuning. The segmentation output of the different trained models was compared against expert ground truth by means of geometric metrics. Moreover, a trained physician graded the network segmentations as well as the segmentations propagated by the clinical TPS.

RESULTS : The BMs showed dice similarity coefficients (DSC) of 0.88(4) and 0.93(3) for the rectum and the bladder, respectively, independent of the facility. CTV segmentation with the BM was best for intermediate- and high-risk cancer patients from C1 with DSC=0.84(5) and worse for C2 with DSC=0.74(7). The PS transfer learning brought a significant improvement in the CTV segmentation, yielding DSC=0.72(4) for post-prostatectomy and low-risk patients and DSC=0.88(5) for intermediate- and high-risk patients. The FS training did not improve the segmentation accuracy considerably. The physician's assessment of the TPS-propagated vs. network-generated structures showed a clear advantage of the latter.

CONCLUSIONS : The obtained results showed that the presented segmentation technique has potential to improve automatic segmentation for MR guided radiation therapy. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Kawula M, Hadi I, Nierer L, Vagni M, Cusumano D, Boldrini L, Placidi L, Corradini S, Belka C, Landry G, Kurz C


0.35 T MR-Linac, adaptive radiotherapy, automatic segmentation, deep learning, patient-specific transfer learning, prostate cancer