Image acquisition and manipulation protocols for CT-PET fusion to improve the accuracy of gross tumour volume localisation for 3D conformal radiotherapy for lung cancer

Hargrave, Catriona Elizabeth (2010) Image acquisition and manipulation protocols for CT-PET fusion to improve the accuracy of gross tumour volume localisation for 3D conformal radiotherapy for lung cancer. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Aims: To develop clinical protocols for acquiring PET images, performing CT-PET registration and tumour volume definition based on the PET image data, for radiotherapy for lung cancer patients and then to test these protocols with respect to levels of accuracy and reproducibility. Method: A phantom-based quality assurance study of the processes associated with using registered CT and PET scans for tumour volume definition was conducted to: (1) investigate image acquisition and manipulation techniques for registering and contouring CT and PET images in a radiotherapy treatment planning system, and (2) determine technology-based errors in the registration and contouring processes. The outcomes of the phantom image based quality assurance study were used to determine clinical protocols. Protocols were developed for (1) acquiring patient PET image data for incorporation into the 3DCRT process, particularly for ensuring that the patient is positioned in their treatment position; (2) CT-PET image registration techniques and (3) GTV definition using the PET image data. The developed clinical protocols were tested using retrospective clinical trials to assess levels of inter-user variability which may be attributed to the use of these protocols. A Siemens Somatom Open Sensation 20 slice CT scanner and a Philips Allegro stand-alone PET scanner were used to acquire the images for this research. The Philips Pinnacle3 treatment planning system was used to perform the image registration and contouring of the CT and PET images. Results: Both the attenuation-corrected and transmission images obtained from standard whole-body PET staging clinical scanning protocols were acquired and imported into the treatment planning system for the phantom-based quality assurance study. Protocols for manipulating the PET images in the treatment planning system, particularly for quantifying uptake in volumes of interest and window levels for accurate geometric visualisation were determined. The automatic registration algorithms were found to have sub-voxel levels of accuracy, with transmission scan-based CT-PET registration more accurate than emission scan-based registration of the phantom images. Respiration induced image artifacts were not found to influence registration accuracy while inadequate pre-registration over-lap of the CT and PET images was found to result in large registration errors. A threshold value based on a percentage of the maximum uptake within a volume of interest was found to accurately contour the different features of the phantom despite the lower spatial resolution of the PET images. Appropriate selection of the threshold value is dependant on target-to-background ratios and the presence of respiratory motion. The results from the phantom-based study were used to design, implement and test clinical CT-PET fusion protocols. The patient PET image acquisition protocols enabled patients to be successfully identified and positioned in their radiotherapy treatment position during the acquisition of their whole-body PET staging scan. While automatic registration techniques were found to reduce inter-user variation compared to manual techniques, there was no significant difference in the registration outcomes for transmission or emission scan-based registration of the patient images, using the protocol. Tumour volumes contoured on registered patient CT-PET images using the tested threshold values and viewing windows determined from the phantom study, demonstrated less inter-user variation for the primary tumour volume contours than those contoured using only the patient’s planning CT scans. Conclusions: The developed clinical protocols allow a patient’s whole-body PET staging scan to be incorporated, manipulated and quantified in the treatment planning process to improve the accuracy of gross tumour volume localisation in 3D conformal radiotherapy for lung cancer. Image registration protocols which factor in potential software-based errors combined with adequate user training are recommended to increase the accuracy and reproducibility of registration outcomes. A semi-automated adaptive threshold contouring technique incorporating a PET windowing protocol, accurately defines the geometric edge of a tumour volume using PET image data from a stand alone PET scanner, including 4D target volumes.

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ID Code: 34465
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Fielding, Andrew & Poulsen, Michael
Keywords: image registration, image fusion, tumour volume delineation, clinical protocols, computed tomography, CT, positron emission tomography, PET, tumour motion, 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy, treatment planning, lung cancer
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 13 Sep 2010 05:50
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:57

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