Reduction of inter-observer differences in the delineation of the target in spinal metastases SBRT using an automatic contouring dedicated system
Background Approximately one third of cancer patients will develop spinal metastases, that can be associated with back pain, neurological symptoms and deterioration in performance status. Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) have been offered in clinical practice mainly for the management of oligometastatic and oligoprogressive patients, allowing the prescription of high total dose delivered in one or few sessions to small target volumes, minimizing the dose
... exposure of normal tissues. Due to the high delivered doses and the proximity of critical organs at risk (OAR) such as the spinal cord, the correct definition of the treatment volume becomes even more important in SBRT treatment, thus making it necessary to standardize the method of target definition and contouring, through the adoption of specific guidelines and specific automatic contouring tools. An automatic target contouring system for spine SBRT is useful to reduce inter-observer differences in target definition. In this study, an automatic contouring tool was evaluated. Methods Simulation CT scans and MRI data of 20 patients with spinal metastases were evaluated. To evaluate the advantage of the automatic target contouring tool (Elements SmartBrush Spine), which uses the identification of different densities within the target vertebra, we evaluated the agreement of the contours of 20 spinal target (2 cervical, 9 dorsal and 9 lumbar column), outlined by three independent observers using the automatic tool compared to the contours obtained manually, and measured by DICE similarity coefficient. Results The agreement of GTV contours outlined by independent operators was superior with the use of the automatic contour tool compared to manually outlined contours (mean DICE coefficient 0.75 vs 0.57, p = 0.048). Conclusions The dedicated contouring tool allows greater precision and reduction of inter-observer differences in the delineation of the target in SBRT spines. Thus, the evaluated system could be useful in the setting of spinal SBRT to reduce uncertainties of contouring increasing the level of precision on target delivered doses.