Evaluation of deformable image registration for contour propagation between CT and cone-beam CT images in adaptive head and neck radiotherapy.

Deformable image registration (DIR) is a critical technic in adaptive radiotherapy (ART) to propagate contours between planning computerized tomography (CT) images and treatment CT/Cone-beam CT (CBCT) image to account for organ deformation for treatment re-planning. To validate the ability and accuracy of DIR algorithms in organ at risk (OAR) contours mapping, seven intensity-based DIR strategies are tested on the planning CT and weekly CBCT images from six Head & Neck cancer patients who underwent a 6 ∼ 7 weeks intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). Three similarity metrics, i.e. the Dice similarity coefficient (DSC), the percentage error (PE) and the Hausdorff distance (HD), are employed to measure the agreement between the propagated contours and the physician delineated ground truths. It is found that the performance of all the evaluated DIR algorithms declines as the treatment proceeds. No statistically significant performance difference is observed between different DIR algorithms (p> 0.05), except for the double force demons (DFD) which yields the worst result in terms of DSC and PE. For the metric HD, all the DIR algorithms behaved unsatisfactorily with no statistically significant performance difference (p= 0.273). These findings suggested that special care should be taken when utilizing the intensity-based DIR algorithms involved in this study to deform OAR contours between CT and CBCT, especially for those organs with low contrast.

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