Purpose: The current linear method to track tumor progression and evaluate treatment efficacy is insufficient for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). A volumetric method for tumor measurement could improve the evaluation of novel treatments, but a fully manual implementation of volume measurement is too tedious and time-consuming. This manuscript presents a computerized method for the three-dimensional segmentation and volumetric analysis of MPM.
Methods: The computerized MPM segmentation method segments the lung parenchyma and hemithoracic cavities to define the pleural space. Nonlinear diffusion and a k-means classifier are then implemented to identify MPM in the pleural space. A database of 31 computed tomography scans from 31 patients with pathologically confirmed MPM was retrospectively collected. Three observers independently outlined five randomly selected sections in each scan. The Jaccard similarity coefficient (J) between each of the observers and between the observer-defined and computer-defined segmentations was calculated. The computer-defined and the observer-defined segmentation areas (averaged over all observers) were both calculated for each axial section and compared using Bland-Altman plots.
Results: The median J value among observers averaged over all sections was 0.517. The median J between the computer-defined and manual segmentations was 0.484. The difference between these values was not statistically significant. The area delineated by the computerized method demonstrated variability and bias comparable to the tumor area calculated from manual delineations.
Conclusions: A computerized method for segmentation and measurement of MPM was developed. This method requires minimal initialization by the user and demonstrated good agreement with manually drawn outlines and area measurements. This method will allow volumetric tracking of tumor progression and may improve the evaluation of novel MPM treatments.