Deep Learning (DL)-based Automatic Segmentation of the Internal Pudendal Artery (IPA) for Reduction of Erectile Dysfunction in Definitive Radiotherapy of Localized Prostate Cancer

Background and purpose: Radiation-induced erectile dysfunction (RiED) is commonly seen in prostate cancer patients. Clinical trials have been developed in multiple institutions to investigate whether dose-sparing to the internal-pudendal-arteries (IPA) will improve retention of sexual potency. The IPA is usually not considered a conventional organ-at-risk (OAR) due to segmentation difficulty. In this work, we propose a deep learning (DL)-based auto-segmentation model for the IPA that utilizes CT and MRI or CT alone as the input image modality to accommodate variation in clinical practice. Materials and methods: 86 patients with CT and MRI images and noisy IPA labels were recruited in this study. We split the data into 42/14/30 for model training, testing, and a clinical observer study, respectively. There were three major innovations in this model: 1) we designed an architecture with squeeze-and-excite blocks and modality attention for effective feature extraction and production of accurate segmentation, 2) a novel loss function was used for training the model effectively with noisy labels, and 3) modality dropout strategy was used for making the model capable of segmentation in the absence of MRI. Results: The DSC, ASD, and HD95 values for the test dataset were 62.2%, 2.54mm, and 7mm, respectively. AI segmented contours were dosimetrically equivalent to the expert physician's contours. The observer study showed that expert physicians' scored AI contours (mean=3.7) higher than inexperienced physicians' contours (mean=3.1). When inexperienced physicians started with AI contours, the score improved to 3.7. Conclusion: The proposed model achieved good quality IPA contours to improve uniformity of segmentation and to facilitate introduction of standardized IPA segmentation into clinical trials and practice.

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