To evaluate the performance of surface-based deformable image registration (DR) for adaptive radiotherapy of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Based on 13 patients with locally advanced NSCLC, CT images acquired at treatment planning, midway and the end of the radio- (n = 1) or radiochemotherapy (n = 12) course were used for evaluation of DR. All CT images were manually [gross tumor volume (GTV)] and automatically [organs-at-risk (OAR) lung, spinal cord, vertebral spine, trachea, aorta, outline] segmented. Contours were transformed into 3D meshes using the Pinnacle treatment planning system and corresponding mesh points defined control points for DR with interpolation within the structures. Using these deformation maps, follow-up CT images were transformed into the planning images and compared with the original planning CT images.
A progressive tumor shrinkage was observed with median GTV volumes of 170 cm3 (range 42 cm3 - 353 cm3), 124 cm3 (19 cm3 - 325 cm3) and 100 cm3 (10 cm3 - 270 cm3) at treatment planning, mid-way and at the end of treatment. Without DR, correlation coefficients (CC) were 0.76 ± 0.11 and 0.74 ± 0.10 for comparison of the planning CT and the CT images acquired mid-way and at the end of treatment, respectively; DR significantly improved the CC to 0.88 ± 0.03 and 0.86 ± 0.05 (p = 0.001), respectively. With manual landmark registration as reference, DR reduced uncertainties on the GTV surface from 11.8 mm ± 5.1 mm to 2.9 mm ± 1.2 mm. Regarding the carina and intrapulmonary vessel bifurcations, DR reduced uncertainties by about 40% with residual errors of 4 mm to 6 mm on average. Severe deformation artefacts were observed in patients with resolving atelectasis and pleural effusion, in one patient, where the tumor was located around large bronchi and separate segmentation of the GTV and OARs was not possible, and in one patient, where no clear shrinkage but more a decay of the tumor was observed.
The surface-based DR performed accurately for the majority of the patients with locally advanced NSCLC. However, morphological response patterns were identified, where results of the surface-based DR are uncertain.