Purpose: Hyperthermia treatment of head and neck tumors requires accurate treatment planning, based on 3D patient models that are derived from segmented 3D images. These segmentations are currently obtained by manual outlining of the relevant tissue regions, which is a tedious and time-consuming procedure (∼8 h) limiting the clinical applicability of hyperthermia treatment. In this context, the authors present and evaluate an automatic segmentation algorithm for CT images of the head and neck. Methods: The proposed method combines anatomical information, based on atlas registration, with local intensity information in a graph cut framework. The method is evaluated with respect to ground truth manual delineation and compared with multiatlas-based segmentation on a dataset of 18 labeled CT images using the Dice similarity coefficient (DSC), the mean surface distance (MSD), and the Hausdorff surface distance (HSD) as evaluation measures. On a subset of 13 labeled images, the influence of different labelers on the method's accuracy is quantified and compared with the interobserver variability. Results: For the DSC, the proposed method performs significantly better for the segmentation of all the tissues, except brain stem and spinal cord. The MSD shows a significant improvement for optical nerve, eye vitreous humor, lens, and thyroid. For the HSD, the proposed method performs significantly better for eye vitreous humor and brainstem. The proposed method has a significantly better score for DSC, MSD, and HSD than the multiatlas-based method for the eye vitreous humor. For the majority of the tissues (8/11) the segmentation accuracy of the proposed method is approaching the interobserver agreement. The authors' method showed better robustness to variations in atlas labeling compared with multiatlas segmentation. Moreover, the method improved the segmentation reproducibility compared with human observer's segmentations. Conclusions: In conclusion, the proposed framework provides in an accurate automatic segmentation of head and neck tissues in CT images for the generation of 3D patient models, which improves reproducibility, and substantially reduces labor involved in therapy planning.

atlas-based method, graph cut, hyperthermia, image segmentation, treatment planning
dx.doi.org/10.1118/1.4810971, hdl.handle.net/1765/68972
Medical Physics
Department of Medical Informatics

Fortunati, E, Verhaart, R.F, van der Lijn, F, Niessen, W.J, Veenland, J.F, Paulides, M.M, & van Walsum, T.W. (2013). Tissue segmentation of head and neck CT images for treatment planning: A multiatlas approach combined with intensity modeling. Medical Physics, 40(7). doi:10.1118/1.4810971