A comparative study of automatic image segmentation algorithms for target tracking in MR-IGRT

Yuan Feng, Iwan Kawrakow, Jeff Olsen, Parag J. Parikh, Camille Noel, Omar Wooten, Dongsu Du, Sasa Mutic, Yanle Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


On-board magnetic resonance (MR) image guidance during radiation therapy offers the potential for more accurate treatment delivery. To utilize the real-time image information, a crucial prerequisite is the ability to successfully segment and track regions of interest (ROI). The purpose of this work is to evaluate the performance of different segmentation algorithms using motion images (4 frames per second) acquired using a MR image-guided radiotherapy (MR-IGRT) system. Manual contours of the kidney, bladder, duodenum, and a liver tumor by an experienced radiation oncologist were used as the ground truth for performance evaluation. Besides the manual segmentation, images were automatically segmented using thresholding, fuzzy k-means (FKM), k-harmonic means (KHM), and reaction-diffusion level set evolution (RD-LSE) algorithms, as well as the tissue tracking algorithm provided by the ViewRay treatment planning and delivery system (VR-TPDS). The performance of the five algorithms was evaluated quantitatively by comparing with the manual segmentation using the Dice coefficient and target registration error (TRE) measured as the distance between the centroid of the manual ROI and the centroid of the automatically segmented ROI. All methods were able to successfully segment the bladder and the kidney, but only FKM, KHM, and VR-TPDS were able to segment the liver tumor and the duodenum. The performance of the thresholding, FKM, KHM, and RD-LSE algorithms degraded as the local image contrast decreased, whereas the performance of the VP-TPDS method was nearly independent of local image contrast due to the reference registration algorithm. For segmenting high-contrast images (i.e., kidney), the thresholding method provided the best speed (< 1 ms) with a satisfying accuracy (Dice = 0.95). When the image contrast was low, the VR-TPDS method had the best automatic contour. Results suggest an image quality determination procedure before segmentation and a combination of different methods for optimal segmentation with the on-board MR-IGRT system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-460
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of applied clinical medical physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016


  • Image segmentation
  • Image-guided radiotherapy
  • MRI
  • Motion images


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