Magnetic Resonance Imaging-Based Delineation of Organs at Risk in the Head and Neck Region

Adv Radiat Oncol. 2022 Jul 30;8(2):101042. doi: 10.1016/j.adro.2022.101042. eCollection 2023 Mar-Apr.


Purpose: The aim of this article is to establish a comprehensive contouring guideline for treatment planning using only magnetic resonance images through an up-to-date set of organs at risk (OARs), recommended organ boundaries, and relevant suggestions for the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based delineation of OARs in the head and neck (H&N) region.

Methods and materials: After a detailed review of the literature, MRI data were collected from the H&N region of healthy volunteers. OARs were delineated in the axial, coronal, and sagittal planes on T2-weighted sequences. Every contour defined was revised by 4 radiation oncologists and subsequently by 2 independent senior experts (H&N radiation oncologist and radiologist). After revision, the final structures were presented to the consortium partners.

Results: A definitive consensus was reached after multi-institutional review. On that basis, we provided a detailed anatomic and functional description and specific MRI characteristics of the OARs.

Conclusions: In the era of precision radiation therapy, the need for well-built, straightforward contouring guidelines is on the rise. Precise, uniform, delineation-based, automated OAR segmentation on MRI may lead to increased accuracy in terms of organ boundaries and analysis of dose-dependent sequelae for an adequate definition of normal tissue complication probability.

Publication types

  • Review