Evaluation of PET/MRI for tumor volume delineation for head and neck cancer

Kyle Wang, Brandon T. Mullins, Aaron D. Falchook, Jun Lian, Kelei He, Dinggang Shen, Michael Dance, Weili Lin, Tiffany M. Sills, Shiva K. Das, Benjamin Y. Huang, Bhishamjit S. Chera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Computed tomography (CT), combined positron emitted tomography and CT (PET/CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are commonly used in head and neck radiation planning. Hybrid PET/MRI has garnered attention for potential added value in cancer staging and treatment planning. Herein, we compare PET/MRI vs. planning CT for head and neck cancer gross tumor volume (GTV) delineation. Material and methods: We prospectively enrolled patients with head and neck cancer treated with definitive chemoradiation to 60-70 Gy using IMRT. We performed pretreatment contrast-enhanced planning CT and gadolinium-enhanced PET/MRI. Primary and nodal volumes were delineated on planning CT (GTV-CT) prospectively before treatment and PET/MRI (GTV-PET/MRI) retrospectively after treatment. GTV-PET/MRI was compared to GTV-CT using separate rigid registrations for each tumor volume. The Dice similarity coefficient (DSC) metric evaluating spatial overlap and modified Hausdorff distance (mHD) evaluating mean orthogonal distance difference were calculated. Minimum dose to 95% of GTVs (D95) was compared. Results: Eleven patients were evaluable (10 oropharynx, 1 larynx). Nine patients had evaluable primary tumor GTVs and seven patients had evaluable nodal GTVs. Mean primary GTV-CT and GTV-PET/MRI size were 13.2 and 14.3 cc, with mean intersection 8.7 cc, DSC 0.63, and mHD 1.6 mm. D95 was 65.3 Gy for primary GTV-CT vs. 65.2 Gy for primary GTV-PET/MRI. Mean nodal GTV-CT and GTV-PET/MRI size were 19.0 and 23.0 cc, with mean intersection 14.4 cc, DSC 0.69, and mHD 2.3 mm. D95 was 62.3 Gy for both nodal GTV-CT and GTV-PET/MRI. Conclusion: In this series of patients with head and neck (primarily oropharynx) cancer, PET/MRI and CT-GTVs had similar volumes (though there were individual cases with larger differences) with overall small discrepancies in spatial overlap, small mean orthogonal distance differences, and similar radiation doses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Issue numberJAN
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 23
Externally publishedYes


  • CT
  • GTV
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Radiation treatment planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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