Background and purpose: In 2003, a panel of experts published a set of consensus guidelines regarding the delineation of the neck node levels (Radiother Oncol, 2003; 69: 227-36). These recommendations were applicable for the node-negative and the N1-neck, but were found too restrictive for the node-positive and the post-operative neck.
Patients and methods: In this framework, using the previous recommendations as a backbone, new guidelines have been proposed taking into account the specificities of the node-positive and the post-operative neck.
Results: Inclusion of the retrostyloid space cranially and the supra-clavicular fossa caudally is proposed in case of neck nodes (defined radiologically or on the surgical specimen) located in levels II, and IV or Vb, respectively. When extra-capsular rupture is suspected (on imaging) or demonstrated on the pathological specimen, adjacent muscles should also be included in the CTV. For node(s) located at the boundary between contiguous levels (e.g. levels II and Ib), these two levels should be delineated. In the post-operative setting, the entire 'surgical bed' should be included. Last, the retropharyngeal space should be delineated in case of positive neck from pharyngeal tumors.
Conclusions: The objective of the manuscript is to give a comprehensive description of the new set of guidelines for CTV delineation in the node-positive neck and the post-operative neck, with a complementary atlas of the new anatomical structures to be included.