Performance of deep learning synthetic CTs for MR-only brain radiation therapy

Xiaoning Liu, Hajar Emami, Siamak P. Nejad-Davarani, Eric Morris, Lonni Schultz, Ming Dong, Carri K. Glide-Hurst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Purpose: To evaluate the dosimetric and image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) performance of a novel generative adversarial network (GAN) generated synthetic CT (synCT) in the brain and compare its performance for clinical use including conventional brain radiotherapy, cranial stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), planar, and volumetric IGRT. Methods and Materials: SynCT images for 12 brain cancer patients (6 SRS, 6 conventional) were generated from T1-weighted postgadolinium magnetic resonance (MR) images by applying a GAN model with a residual network (ResNet) generator and a convolutional neural network (CNN) with 5 convolutional layers as the discriminator that classified input images as real or synthetic. Following rigid registration, clinical structures and treatment plans derived from simulation CT (simCT) images were transferred to synCTs. Dose was recalculated for 15 simCT/synCT plan pairs using fixed monitor units. Two-dimensional (2D) gamma analysis (2%/2 mm, 1%/1 mm) was performed to compare dose distributions at isocenter. Dose–volume histogram (DVH) metrics (D95%, D99%, D0.2cc, and D0.035cc) were assessed for the targets and organ at risks (OARs). IGRT performance was evaluated via volumetric registration between cone beam CT (CBCT) to synCT/simCT and planar registration between KV images to synCT/simCT digital reconstructed radiographs (DRRs). Results: Average gamma passing rates at 1%/1mm and 2%/2mm were 99.0 ± 1.5% and 99.9 ± 0.2%, respectively. Excellent agreement in DVH metrics was observed (mean difference ≤0.10 ± 0.04 Gy for targets, 0.13 ± 0.04 Gy for OARs). The population averaged mean difference in CBCT-synCT registrations were <0.2 mm and 0.1 degree different from simCT-based registrations. The mean difference between kV-synCT DRR and kV-simCT DRR registrations was <0.5 mm with no statistically significant differences observed (P > 0.05). An outlier with a large resection cavity exhibited the worst-case scenario. Conclusion: Brain GAN synCTs demonstrated excellent performance for dosimetric and IGRT endpoints, offering potential use in high precision brain cancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-317
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of applied clinical medical physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Deep Learning
  • General Adversarial Network
  • Image Guided Radiation Therapy
  • Synthetic CT


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