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Purpose: In this work, we address image segmentation in the scope of dosimetry using deep learning and make three main contributions: (a) to extend and optimize the architecture of an existing convolutional neural network (CNN) in order to obtain a fast, robust and accurate computed tomography (CT)-based organ segmentation method for kidneys and livers; (b) to train the CNN with an inhomogeneous set of CT scans and validate the CNN for daily dosimetry; and (c) to evaluate dosimetry results obtained using automated organ segmentation in comparison with manual segmentation done by two independent experts. Methods: We adapted a performant deep learning approach using CT-images to delineate organ boundaries with sufficiently high accuracy and adequate processing time. The segmented organs were consequently used as binary masks for further convolution with a point spread function to retrieve the activity values from quantitatively reconstructed SPECT images for “volumetric”/3D dosimetry. The resulting activities were used to perform dosimetry calculations with the kidneys as source organs. Results: The computational expense of the algorithm was sufficient for clinical daily routine, required minimum pre-processing and performed with acceptable accuracy a Dice coefficient of 93 % for liver segmentation and of 94 % for kidney segmentation, respectively. In addition, kidney self-absorbed doses calculated using automated segmentation differed by 7 % from dosimetry performed by two medical physicists in 8 patients. Conclusion: The proposed approach may accelerate volumetric dosimetry of kidneys in molecular radiotherapy with 177Lu-labelled radiopharmaceuticals such as 177Lu-DOTATOC. However, even though a fully automated segmentation methodology based on CT images accelerates organ segmentation and performs with high accuracy, it does not remove the need for supervision and corrections by experts, mostly due to misalignments in the co-registration between SPECT and CT images. Trial registration EudraCT, 2016-001897-13. Registered 26.04.2016, www.clinicaltrialsregister.eu/ctr-search/search?query=2016-001897-13.
Nazari, M., Jiménez-Franco, L. D., Schroeder, M., Kluge, A., Bronzel, M., & Kimiaei, S. (2021). Automated and robust organ segmentation for 3D-based internal dose calculation. EJNMMI Research, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13550-021-00796-5