Early classification of parotid glands shrinkage in radiotherapy patients: A comparative study

Marco Pota, Elisa Scalco, Giuseppe Sanguineti, Giovanni Mauro Cattaneo, Massimo Esposito, Giovanna Rizzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During radiotherapy treatment of patients with head-and-neck cancer, the possibility that parotid glands shrink was evidenced, connected with increasing risk of acute toxicity. In this ambit, the early identification of patients in danger is of primary importance, in order to treat them with adaptive therapy. This work studies different approaches for classifying parotid gland samples, taking into account textural features extracted from computed tomography (CT) images of monitored patients. A real dataset is used, and accuracy, sensitivity and specificity are counted as classification performances. Therefore, firstly, different procedures to define classes are compared in terms of their physical meaning and classification performances. Then, different methods for extracting knowledge from the dataset are implemented and compared in terms of performances and model interpretability. First-rate performance was obtained by using Likelihood-Fuzzy Analysis (LFA), which is a recently developing method based on the use of statistical information by means of Fuzzy Logic. The interpretable models extracted with LFA also allow identifying among textural features those able to predict parotid shrinkage. Some of these features are already known and are confirmed here, others are new, and some of them are very early predictors. Finally, an example of textural feature monitoring and classification of a patient is presented, through a reasoning scheme similar to human reasoning, based on the interpretation of simple rule-based models using linguistic variables.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-89
Number of pages13
JournalBiosystems Engineering
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2015


  • CT based features
  • Fuzzy logic
  • Knowledge extraction
  • Parotid gland shrinkage
  • Radiotherapy
  • Statistics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Soil Science
  • Control and Systems Engineering


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