Contouring quality assurance methodology based on multiple geometric features against deep learning auto-segmentation

Jingwei Duan, Mark E. Bernard, James R. Castle, Xue Feng, Chi Wang, Mark C. Kenamond, Quan Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Contouring error is one of the top failure modes in radiation treatment. Multiple efforts have been made to develop tools to automatically detect segmentation errors. Deep learning-based auto-segmentation (DLAS) has been used as a baseline for flagging manual segmentation errors, but those efforts are limited to using only one or two contour comparison metrics. Purpose: The purpose of this research is to develop an improved contouring quality assurance system to identify and flag manual contouring errors. Methods and materials: DLAS contours were used as a reference to compare with manually segmented contours. A total of 27 geometric agreement metrics were determined from the comparisons between the two segmentation approaches. Feature selection was performed to optimize the training of a machine learning classification model to identify potential contouring errors. A public dataset with 339 cases was used to train and test the classifier. Four independent classifiers were trained using five-fold cross validation, and the predictions from each classifier were ensembled using soft voting. The trained model was validated on a held-out testing dataset. An additional independent clinical dataset with 60 cases was used to test the generalizability of the model. Model predictions were reviewed by an expert to confirm or reject the findings. Results: The proposed machine learning multiple features (ML-MF) approach outperformed traditional nonmachine-learning-based approaches that are based on only one or two geometric agreement metrics. The machine learning model achieved recall (precision) values of 0.842 (0.899), 0.762 (0.762), 0.727 (0.842), and 0.773 (0.773) for Brainstem, Parotid_L, Parotid_R, and mandible contours, respectively compared to 0.526 (0.909), 0.619 (0.765), 0.682 (0.882), 0.773 (0.568) for an approach based solely on Dice similarity coefficient values. In the external validation dataset, 66.7, 93.3, 94.1, and 58.8% of flagged cases were confirmed to have contouring errors by an expert for Brainstem, Parotid_L, Parotid_R, and mandible contours, respectively. Conclusions: The proposed ML-MF approach, which includes multiple geometric agreement metrics to flag manual contouring errors, demonstrated superior performance in comparison to traditional methods. This method is easy to implement in clinical practice and can help to reduce the significant time and labor costs associated with manual segmentation and review.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2715-2732
Number of pages18
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Medical Physics published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Association of Physicists in Medicine.


  • OAR delineation
  • deep learning
  • machine learning
  • quality assurance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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