Machine learning for automatic construction of pseudo-realistic pediatric abdominal phantoms

by   Marco Virgolin, et al.

Machine Learning (ML) is proving extremely beneficial in many healthcare applications. In pediatric oncology, retrospective studies that investigate the relationship between treatment and late adverse effects still rely on simple heuristics. To assess the effects of radiation therapy, treatment plans are typically simulated on phantoms, i.e., virtual surrogates of patient anatomy. Currently, phantoms are built according to reasonable, yet simple, human-designed criteria. This often results in a lack of individualization. We present a novel approach that combines imaging and ML to build individualized phantoms automatically. Given the features of a patient treated historically (only 2D radiographs available), and a database of 3D Computed Tomography (CT) imaging with organ segmentations and relative patient features, our approach uses ML to predict how to assemble a patient-specific phantom automatically. Experiments on 60 abdominal CTs of pediatric patients show that our approach constructs significantly more representative phantoms than using current phantom building criteria, in terms of location and shape of the abdomen and of two considered organs, the liver and the spleen. Among several ML algorithms considered, the Gene-pool Optimal Mixing Evolutionary Algorithm for Genetic Programming (GP-GOMEA) is found to deliver the best performing models, which are, moreover, transparent and interpretable mathematical expressions.


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