Purpose: To assess the performance and limitations of contour propagation with three commercial deformable image registration (DIR) algorithms using fractional scans of CT-on-rails (CTOR) and Cone Beam CT (CBCT) in image guided prostate therapy patients treated with IMRT/VMAT. Methods: Twenty prostate cancer patients treated with IMRT/VMAT were selected for analysis. A total of 453 fractions across those patients were analyzed. Image data were imported into MIM (MIM Software, Inc., Cleveland, OH) and three DIR algorithms (DIR Profile, normalized intensity-based (NIB) and shadowed NIB DIR algorithms) were applied to deformably register each fraction with the planning CT. Manually drawn contours of bladder and rectum were utilized for comparison against the DIR propagated contours in each fraction. Four metrics were utilized in the evaluation of contour similarity, the Hausdorff Distance (HD), Mean Distance to Agreement (MDA), Dice Similarity Coefficient (DSC), and Jaccard indices. A subfactor analysis was performed per modality (CTOR vs. CBCT) and time (fraction). Point estimates and 95% confidence intervals were assessed via a Linear Mixed Effect model for the contour similarity metrics. Results: No statistically significant differences were observed between the DIR Profile and NIB algorithms. However, statistically significant differences were observed between the shadowed NIB and NIB algorithms for some of the DIR evaluation metrics. The Hausdorff Distance calculation showed the NIB propagated contours vs. shadowed NIB propagated contours against the manual contours were 14.82 mm vs. 8.34 mm for bladder and 15.87 mm vs. 11 mm for rectum, respectively. Similarly, the Mean Distance to Agreement calculation comparing the NIB propagated contours vs. shadowed NIB propagated contours against the manual contours were 2.43 mm vs. 0.98 mm for bladder and 2.57 mm vs. 1.00 mm for rectum, respectively. The Dice Similarity Coefficients comparing the NIB propagated contours and shadowed NIB propagated contours against the manual contours were 0.844 against 0.936 for bladder and 0.772 against 0.907 for rectum, respectively. The Jaccard indices comparing the NIB propagated contours and shadowed NIB propagated contours against the manual contours were 0.749 against 0.884 for bladder and 0.637 against 0.831 for rectum, respectively. The shadowed NIB DIR, which showed the closest agreement with the manual contours performed significantly better than the DIR Profile in all the comparisons. The OAR with the greatest agreement varied substantially across patients and image guided radiation therapy (IGRT) modality. Intra-patient variability of contour metric evaluation was insignificant across all the DIR algorithms. Statistical significance at α = 0.05 was observed for manual vs. deformably propagated contours for bladder for all the metrics except Hausdorff Distance (P = 0.01 for MDA, P = 0.02 for DSC, P = 0.01 for Jaccard), whereas the corresponding values for rectum were: P = 0.03 for HD, P = 0.01 for MDA, P < 0.01 for DSC, P < 0.01 for Jaccard. The performance of the different metrics varied slightly across the fractions of each patient, which indicates that weekly contour propagation models provide a reasonable approximation of the daily contour propagation models. Conclusion: The high variance of Hausdorff Distance across all automated methods for bladder indicates widely variable agreement across fractions for all patients. Lower variance across all modalities, methods, and metrics were observed for rectum. The shadowed NIB propagated contours were substantially more similar to the manual contours than the DIR Profile or NIB contours for both the CTOR and CBCT imaging modalities. The relationship of each algorithm to similarity with manual contours is consistent across all observed metrics and organs. Screening of image guidance for substantial differences in bladder and rectal filling compared with the planning CT reference could aid in identifying fractions for which automated DIR would prove insufficient.
- cone beam CT
- deformable image registration
- prostate cancer