Cardiac Substructure Segmentation and Dosimetry Using a Novel Hybrid Magnetic Resonance and Computed Tomography Cardiac Atlas

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International journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics


PURPOSE: Radiation dose to the heart and cardiac substructures has been linked to cardiotoxicities. Because cardiac substructures are poorly visualized on treatment-planning computed tomography (CT) scans, we used the superior soft-tissue contrast of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to optimize a hybrid MR/CT atlas for substructure dose assessment using CT.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Thirty-one patients with left-sided breast cancer underwent a T2-weighted MR imaging scan and noncontrast simulation CT scans. A radiation oncologist delineated 13 substructures (chambers, great vessels, coronary arteries, etc) using MR/CT information via cardiac-confined rigid registration. Ground-truth contours for 20 patients were inputted into an intensity-based deformable registration atlas and applied to 11 validation patients. Automatic segmentations involved using majority vote and Simultaneous Truth and Performance Level Estimation (STAPLE) strategies with 1 to 15 atlas matches. Performance was evaluated via Dice similarity coefficient (DSC), mean distance to agreement, and centroid displacement. Three physicians evaluated segmentation performance via consensus scoring by using a 5-point scale. Dosimetric assessment included measurements of mean heart dose, left ventricular volume receiving 5 Gy, and left anterior descending artery mean and maximum doses.

RESULTS: Atlas approaches performed similarly well, with 7 of 13 substructures (heart, chambers, ascending aorta, and pulmonary artery) having DSC >0.75 when averaged over 11 validation patients. Coronary artery segmentations were not successful with the atlas-based approach (mean DSC50% of all validation contours had centroid displacements.05). Qualitative contour grading showed that 8 substructures required minor modifications.

CONCLUSIONS: The hybrid MR/CT atlas provided reliable segmentations of chambers, heart, and great vessels for patients undergoing noncontrast CT, suggesting potential widespread applicability for routine treatment planning.

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