Delineation of organs at risk involved in swallowing for radiotherapy treatment planning

Radiother Oncol. 2011 Dec;101(3):394-402. doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2011.05.015. Epub 2011 Jun 12.


Background and purpose: Radiotherapy, alone or combined with chemotherapy, is a treatment modality used frequently in head and neck cancer. In order to report, compare and interpret the sequelae of radiation treatment adequately, it is important to delineate organs at risk (OARs) according to well-defined and uniform guidelines. The aim of this paper was to present our institutional Computed Tomography (CT)-based delineation guidelines for organs in the head and neck at risk for radiation-induced swallowing dysfunction (SWOARs).

Material and methods: After analyses of the human anatomy of the head and neck area and literature review, CT-based guidelines for delineation of the most relevant SWOARs were described by a panel of experts.

Results and conclusions: This paper described institutional guidelines for the delineation of potential SWOARs, accompanied by CT-based illustrations presenting examples of the delineated structures and their corresponding anatomic borders. This paper is essential to ensure adequate interpretation of future reports on the relationship between dose distribution in these SWOARs and different aspects of post-treatment swallowing dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Deglutition / physiology
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Organs at Risk*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*