Date Published:2013 Jun
PURPOSE: The purpose of this work is to investigate the performance of an interactive image segmentation method for radiotherapy contouring on computed tomography (CT) images. Manual segmentation is a time consuming task that is essential for treatment. Due to the low contrast of target structures, their similarity to surrounding tissue, and the required precision for the final segmentation Result, automatic methods do not exhibit robust performance. Furthermore, when an automatic segmentation algorithm produces errors at the structure boundary, they are tedious for a human user to correct. For this experiment, it is hypothesized that an interactive algorithm can attain ground truth results in a fraction of the the time needed for manual segmentation. METHODS: The proposed method is interactive segmentation that tightly couples a human "expert user" with a framework from computer vision called "active contours" to create a closed loop control system. As a Result, the strengths (i.e., quickly delineating complicated target boundaries) of the automatic method can be leveraged by the user, who guides the algorithm based on his expert knowledge throughout the process. Experimental segmentations have been performed both with and without the control system feedback, the accuracy of the resulting labels will be compared along with the time required to create the labels. RESULTS: Four structures were evaluated: left/right eye ball, brain stem, and mandible. Tests show that virtually identical segmentations are performed with and without control system feedback. However, the time required to complete the task is significantly less than what is needed for fully manual contouring. CONCLUSION: Interactive segmentation using control system feedback is shown to reduce the time and effort needed to segment targets in CT volumes of the head and neck region.