Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare the prostate contours drawn by two radiation oncologists and one radiologist on magnetic resonance (MR) and transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) images. TRUS intra- and inter-fraction variability as well as TRUS vs. MR inter-modality and inter-operator variability were studied.
Material and methods: Thirty patients affected by localized prostate cancer and treated with interstitial high-dose-rate (HDR) prostate brachytherapy at the National Cancer Institute in Milan were included in this study. Twenty-five patients received an exclusive two-fraction (14 Gy/fraction) treatment, while the other 5 received a single 14 Gy fraction as a boost after external beam radiotherapy. The prostate was contoured on TRUS images acquired before (virtual US) and after (real US) needle implant by two radiation oncologists, whereas on MR prostate was independently contoured by the same radiation oncologists (MR1, MR2) and by a dedicated radiologist (MR3). Absolute differences of prostate volumes (│ΔV│) and craniocaudal extents (│Δdz│) were evaluated. The Dice's coefficient (DC) was calculated to quantify spatial overlap between MR contours.
Results: Significant difference was found between Vvirtual and Vlive (p < 0.001) for the first treatment fractions and between VMR1 and VMR2 (p = 0.043). Significant difference between cranio-caudal extents was found between dzvirtual and dzlive (p < 0.033) for the first treatment fractions, between dzvirtual of the first treatment fractions and dzMR1 (p < 0.001) and between dzMR1 and dzMR3 (p < 0.01). Oedema might be responsible for some of the changes in US volumes. Average DC values resulting from the comparison MR1 vs. MR2, MR1 vs. MR3 and MR2 vs. MR3 were 0.95 ± 0.04 (range, 0.82-0.99), 0.87 ± 0.04 (range, 0.73-0.91) and 0.87 ± 0.04 (range, 0.72-0.91), respectively.
Conclusions: Our results demonstrate the importance of a multiprofessional approach to TRUS-guided HDR prostate brachytherapy. Specific training in MR and US prostate imaging is recommended for centers that are unfamiliar with HDR prostate brachytherapy.