A Radiation Therapy Contouring Atlas for Delineation of the Level I and II Axillae in the Prone Position: A Single-Institution Experience

Pract Radiat Oncol. 2024 May 8:S1879-8500(24)00097-3. doi: 10.1016/j.prro.2024.04.016. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: With transition from supine to prone position, tenting of the pectoralis major occurs, displacing the muscle from the chest wall and shifting the level I and II axillary spaces. For patients for whom we aim to treat the level I and II axillae using the prone technique, accurate delineation of these nodal regions is necessary. Although different consensus guidelines exist for delineation of nodal anatomy in supine position, to our knowledge, there are no contouring guidelines in the prone position that account for this change in nodal anatomy.

Methods and materials: The level I and II nodal contours from the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) breast cancer supine atlas were adapted for prone position by 2 radiation oncologists and a breast radiologist based on anatomic changes observed from supine to prone positioning on preoperative diagnostic imaging. Forty-three patients from a single institution treated with prone high tangents from 2012 to 2018 were identified as representative cases to delineate the revised level I and II axillae on noncontrast computed tomography (CT) scans obtained during radiation simulation. The revised nodal contours were reviewed by an expanded expert multidisciplinary panel including breast radiologists, radiation oncologists, and surgical oncologists for consistency and reproducibility.

Results: Consensus was achieved among the panel in order to create modifications from the RTOG breast atlas for CT-based contouring of the level I and II axillae in prone position using bone, muscle, and skin as landmarks. This atlas provides representative examples and accompanying descriptions for the changes described to the caudal and anterior borders of level II and the anterior, posterior, medial, and lateral borders of level I. A step-by-step guide is provided for properly identifying the revised anterior border of the level I axilla.

Conclusions: The adaptations to the RTOG breast cancer atlas for prone positioning will enable radiation oncologists to more accurately target the level I and II axillae when the axillae are targets in addition to the breast.