Date of Graduation


Document Type

Thesis (MS)

Program Affiliation

Medical Physics

Degree Name

Masters of Science (MS)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Tinsu Pan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Peter Balter, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Valen Johnson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Osama Mawlawi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

George Starkschall, Ph.D.


The motion of lung tumors during respiration makes the accurate delivery of radiation therapy to the thorax difficult because it increases the uncertainty of target position. The adoption of four-dimensional computed tomography (4D-CT) has allowed us to determine how a tumor moves with respiration for each individual patient. Using information acquired during a 4D-CT scan, we can define the target, visualize motion, and calculate dose during the planning phase of the radiotherapy process. One image data set that can be created from the 4D-CT acquisition is the maximum-intensity projection (MIP). The MIP can be used as a starting point to define the volume that encompasses the motion envelope of the moving gross target volume (GTV).

Because of the close relationship that exists between the MIP and the final target volume, we investigated four MIP data sets created with different methodologies (3 using various 4D-CT sorting implementations, and one using all available cine CT images) to compare target delineation. It has been observed that changing the 4D-CT sorting method will lead to the selection of a different collection of images; however, the clinical implications of changing the constituent images on the resultant MIP data set are not clear. There has not been a comprehensive study that compares target delineation based on different 4D-CT sorting methodologies in a patient population. We selected a collection of patients who had previously undergone thoracic 4D-CT scans at our institution, and who had lung tumors that moved at least 1 cm. We then generated the four MIP data sets and automatically contoured the target volumes.

In doing so, we identified cases in which the MIP generated from a 4D-CT sorting process under-represented the motion envelope of the target volume by more than 10% than when measured on the MIP generated from all of the cine CT images. The 4D-CT methods suffered from duplicate image selection and might not choose maximum extent images. Based on our results, we suggest utilization of a MIP generated from the full cine CT data set to ensure a representative inclusive tumor extent, and to avoid geometric miss.


four-dimensional computed tomography, 4D-CT, cine computed tomography, contouring, radiation therapy target delineation, maximum-intensity projection, treatment planning



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