Evaluation of Deep Learning Clinical Target Volumes Auto-Contouring for Magnetic Resonance Imaging-Guided Online Adaptive Treatment of Rectal Cancer.



The framework established that the model's performance after expert corrections was comparable to IOV, and although the model introduced a bias, this had no relevant impact on clinical practice. Additionally, we found a substantial time gain without reducing quality as determined by volumetric target coverage.


Segmentation of clinical target volumes (CTV) on medical images can be time-consuming and is prone to interobserver variation (IOV). This is a problem for online adaptive radiation therapy, where CTV segmentation must be performed every treatment fraction, leading to longer treatment times and logistic challenges. Deep learning (DL)-based auto-contouring has the potential to speed up CTV contouring, but its current clinical use is limited. One reason for this is that it can be time-consuming to verify the accuracy of CTV contours produced using auto-contouring, and there is a risk of bias being introduced. To be accepted by clinicians, auto-contouring must be trustworthy. Therefore, there is a need for a comprehensive commissioning framework when introducing DL-based auto-contouring in clinical practice. We present such a framework and apply it to an in-house developed DL model for auto-contouring of the CTV in rectal cancer patients treated with MRI-guided online adaptive radiation therapy.


The framework for evaluating DL-based auto-contouring consisted of 3 steps: (1) Quantitative evaluation of the model's performance and comparison with IOV; (2) Expert observations and corrections; and (3) Evaluation of the impact on expected volumetric target coverage. These steps were performed on independent data sets. The framework was applied to an in-house trained nnU-Net model, using the data of 44 rectal cancer patients treated at our institution.


Our framework provides a comprehensive evaluation of the performance and clinical usability of target auto-contouring models. Based on the results, we conclude that the model is eligible for clinical use.

More about this publication

Advances in radiation oncology
  • Volume 9
  • Issue nr. 6
  • Pages 101483
  • Publication date 01-06-2024

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