Thyroid volume measurement in external beam radiotherapy patients using CT imaging: correlation with clinical and anthropometric characteristics

Phys Med Biol. 2010 Nov 7;55(21):N507-19. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/55/21/N02. Epub 2010 Oct 15.


The aim of this study is to define criteria for accurate representation of the thyroid in human models used to represent external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) patients and evaluate the relationship between the volume of this organ and clinical and anthropometric characteristics. From CT images, we segmented the thyroid gland and calculated its volume for a population of 188 EBRT patients of both sexes, with ages ranging from 1 to 89 years. To evaluate uncertainties linked to measured volumes, experimental studies on the Livermore anthropomorphic phantom were performed. For our population of EBRT patients, we observed that in children, thyroid volume increased rapidly with age, from about 3 cm(3) at 2 years to about 16 cm(3) at 20. In adults, the mean thyroid gland volume was 23.5 ± 9 cm(3) for males and 17.5 ± 8 cm(3) for females. According to anthropometric parameters, the best fit for children was obtained by modeling the log of thyroid volume as a linear function of body surface area (BSA) (p < 0.0001) and age (p = 0.04) and for adults, as a linear function of BSA (p < 0.0001) and gender (p = 0.01). This work enabled us to demonstrate that BSA was the best indicator of thyroid volume for both males and females. These results should be taken into account when modeling the volume of the thyroid in human models used to represent EBRT patients for dosimetry in retrospective studies of the relationship between the estimated dose to the thyroid and long-term follow-up data on EBRT patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Models, Statistical
  • Observer Variation
  • Organ Size
  • Radiotherapy / methods*
  • Thyroid Gland / diagnostic imaging*
  • Thyroid Gland / pathology*
  • Thyroid Gland / radiation effects
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Young Adult