A national study on the inter-observer variability in the delineation of organs at risk in the brain
The Danish Neuro Oncology Group (DNOG) has established national consensus guidelines for the delineation of organs at risk (OAR) structures based on published literature. This study was conducted to finalise these guidelines and evaluate the inter-observer variability of the delineated OAR structures by expert observers.
The DNOG delineation guidelines were formed by participants from all Danish centres that treat brain tumours with radiotherapy. In a two-day workshop, guidelines were discussed and finalised based on a pilot study. Following this, the ten participants contoured the following OARs on T1-weighted gadolinium enhanced MRI from 13 patients with brain tumours: optic tracts, optic nerves, chiasm, spinal cord, brainstem, pituitary gland and hippocampus. The metrics used for comparison were the Dice similarity coefficient (Dice), mean surface distance (MSD) and others.
A total of 968 contours were delineated across the 13 patients. On average eight (range six to nine) individual contour sets were made per patient. Good agreement was found across all structures with a median MSD below 1 mm for most structures, with the chiasm performing the best with a median MSD of 0.45 mm. The Dice was as expected highly volume dependent, the brainstem (the largest structure) had the highest Dice value with a median of 0.89 whereas smaller volumes such as the chiasm had a Dice of 0.71.
Except for the caudal definition of the spinal cord, the variances observed in the contours of OARs in the brain were generally low and consistent. Surface mapping revealed sub-regions of higher variance for some organs. The data set is being prepared as a validation data set for auto-segmentation algorithms for use within the Danish Comprehensive Cancer Centre – Radiotherapy and potential collaborators.