NRG Oncology Assessment of Artificial Intelligence Deep Learning-Based Auto-segmentation for Radiation Therapy: Current Developments, Clinical Considerations, and Future Directions

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2023 Nov 14:S0360-3016(23)08039-2. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2023.10.033. Online ahead of print.


Deep learning neural networks (DLNN) in Artificial intelligence (AI) have been extensively explored for automatic segmentation in radiotherapy (RT). In contrast to traditional model-based methods, data-driven AI-based models for auto-segmentation have shown high accuracy in early studies in research settings and controlled environment (single institution). Vendor-provided commercial AI models are made available as part of the integrated treatment planning system (TPS) or as a stand-alone tool that provides streamlined workflow interacting with the main TPS. These commercial tools have drawn clinics' attention thanks to their significant benefit in reducing the workload from manual contouring and shortening the duration of treatment planning. However, challenges occur when applying these commercial AI-based segmentation models to diverse clinical scenarios, particularly in uncontrolled environments. Contouring nomenclature and guideline standardization has been the main task undertaken by the NRG Oncology. AI auto-segmentation holds the potential clinical trial participants to reduce interobserver variations, nomenclature non-compliance, and contouring guideline deviations. Meanwhile, trial reviewers could use AI tools to verify contour accuracy and compliance of those submitted datasets. In recognizing the growing clinical utilization and potential of these commercial AI auto-segmentation tools, NRG Oncology has formed a working group to evaluate the clinical utilization and potential of commercial AI auto-segmentation tools. The group will assess in-house and commercially available AI models, evaluation metrics, clinical challenges, and limitations, as well as future developments in addressing these challenges. General recommendations are made in terms of the implementation of these commercial AI models, as well as precautions in recognizing the challenges and limitations.