Multi-institutional Randomized Trial Testing the Utility of an Interactive Three-dimensional Contouring Atlas Among Radiation Oncology Residents

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2017 Jul 1;98(3):547-554. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2016.11.050. Epub 2016 Dec 9.


Purpose: The delivery of safe and effective radiation therapy relies on accurate target delineation, particularly in the era of highly conformal treatment techniques. Current contouring resources are fragmented and can be cumbersome to use. The present study reports on the efficacy and usability of a web-based contouring atlas compared with those of existing contouring resources in a randomized trial.

Methods and materials: We enrolled radiation oncology residents into a 2-phase contouring study. All residents contoured a T1N1 nasopharyngeal cancer case using the currently available resources. The participants were then randomized to recontour the case with access to existing resources or an interactive web-based contouring atlas ( Contour analysis was performed using conformation number and simultaneous truth and performance level estimation. At completion of the second contouring session, the residents completed a multiple choice question knowledge test and a 10-item System Usability Scale.

Results: Twenty-four residents from 5 institutions completed the study. Compared with the residents using currently available resources, the residents using eContour had improved contour agreement with both the consensus (0.63 vs 0.52; P=.02) and the expert (0.58 vs 0.50; P=.01) contours for the high-risk clinical target volume and greater agreement with the expert contour for the contralateral parotid gland (0.44 ± 0.12 vs 0.56 ± 0.08; P=.003). The residents using eContour demonstrated greater knowledge of contour delineation and radiographic anatomy on a multiple-choice knowledge-based test (89% vs 77%; P=.03). Usability (89 vs 66; P<.0001) and satisfaction (4.1 vs 3.0; P=.002) were greater for eContour than for the existing resources.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates the capacity of an interactive 3-dimensional contouring atlas to improve quality of resident target delineation in radiation oncology. Further research is needed to define the utility of easily accessible interactive educational reference tool to improve adherence to contouring-based guidelines and quality of care in routine clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cochlea / diagnostic imaging
  • Consensus
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Medical Illustration*
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Organs at Risk
  • Parotid Gland / diagnostic imaging
  • Radiation Oncology*
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Tumor Burden