Incorporating big data into treatment plan evaluation: Development of statistical DVH metrics and visualization dashboards

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Purpose To develop statistical dose-volume histogram (DVH)–based metrics and a visualization method to quantify the comparison of treatment plans with historical experience and among different institutions. Methods and materials The descriptive statistical summary (ie, median, first and third quartiles, and 95% confidence intervals) of volume-normalized DVH curve sets of past experiences was visualized through the creation of statistical DVH plots. Detailed distribution parameters were calculated and stored in JavaScript Object Notation files to facilitate management, including transfer and potential multi-institutional comparisons. In the treatment plan evaluation, structure DVH curves were scored against computed statistical DVHs and weighted experience scores (WESs). Individual, clinically used, DVH-based metrics were integrated into a generalized evaluation metric (GEM) as a priority-weighted sum of normalized incomplete gamma functions. Historical treatment plans for 351 patients with head and neck cancer, 104 with prostate cancer who were treated with conventional fractionation, and 94 with liver cancer who were treated with stereotactic body radiation therapy were analyzed to demonstrate the usage of statistical DVH, WES, and GEM in a plan evaluation. A shareable dashboard plugin was created to display statistical DVHs and integrate GEM and WES scores into a clinical plan evaluation within the treatment planning system. Benchmarking with normal tissue complication probability scores was carried out to compare the behavior of GEM and WES scores. Results DVH curves from historical treatment plans were characterized and presented, with difficult-to-spare structures (ie, frequently compromised organs at risk) identified. Quantitative evaluations by GEM and/or WES compared favorably with the normal tissue complication probability Lyman-Kutcher-Burman model, transforming a set of discrete threshold-priority limits into a continuous model reflecting physician objectives and historical experience. Conclusions Statistical DVH offers an easy-to-read, detailed, and comprehensive way to visualize the quantitative comparison with historical experiences and among institutions. WES and GEM metrics offer a flexible means of incorporating discrete threshold-prioritizations and historic context into a set of standardized scoring metrics. Together, they provide a practical approach for incorporating big data into clinical practice for treatment plan evaluations.




Mayo, C. S., Yao, J., Eisbruch, A., Balter, J. M., Litzenberg, D. W., Matuszak, M. M., … Haken, R. T. (2017). Incorporating big data into treatment plan evaluation: Development of statistical DVH metrics and visualization dashboards. Advances in Radiation Oncology, 2(3), 503–514.

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