Background: Successful deformable image registration is an essential component of both dose accumulation and plan adaptation in radiotherapy. The aim of this study was to evaluate the performance of a deformable image registration application for propagation of contours using repeat CT scans of the pelvis, a region where considerable deformations are expected.
Material and methods: The study involved four prostate cancer patients, each with 9-11 repeat CT scans. An oncologist contoured bladder, rectum, clinical target volume of pelvic lymph nodes (CTV-ln) and prostate (CTV-p) in all CT scans. The reference CT was retrospectively registered to the repeat CT scans with both rigid and deformable registration using a recently released commercial clinical software application. Two different diffusion-based 'demons' deformable registration algorithms were applied, differing in the amount of deformations being allowed, with algorithm A being more generous than algorithm B. The evaluation of the propagated structures included both quantitative measures and qualitative scoring.
Results: We found the differences between the algorithms to be most evident for bladder and rectum. An increase in mean Dice similarity coefficient relative the rigid registrations of 12% and 13% was obtained with algorithm A for bladder and rectum, compared to 2% with algorithm B. For bladder the mean sensitivity and positive predictive value was 0.92 and 0.87 with algorithm A and 0.82 and 0.83 with algorithm B. Corresponding values for rectum was 0.81 and 0.76 with algorithm A and 0.75 and 0.69 with algorithm B. This translated into 57% and 26% passing the clinical evaluation for bladder and rectum, with algorithm A, compared to 17% and 14% with algorithm B. For CTV-ln and CTV-p both algorithms performed well by all measures, e.g. with 86% of the target structures passing the clinical evaluation.
Conclusions: Deformable image registration improved contour propagation in the pelvis for all organs investigated. Differences in the performance of the algorithms were seen which became more pronounced for the highly deformable organs of bladder and rectum.