User Interaction in Semi-Automatic Segmentation of Organs at Risk: A Case Study in Radiotherapy

A Ramkumar, J. Dolz, HA Kirisli, S Adebahr, T. Schimek-Jasch, U. Nestle, L. Massoptier, E Varga, PJ Stappers, WJ Niessen, Y Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
70 Downloads (Pure)


Accurate segmentation of organs at risk is an important step in radiotherapy planning. Manual segmentation being a tedious procedure and prone to inter- and intra-observer variability, there is a growing interest in automated segmentation methods. However, automatic methods frequently fail to provide satisfactory result, and post-processing corrections are often needed. Semi-automatic segmentation methods are designed to overcome these problems by combining physicians’ expertise and computers’ potential. This study evaluates two semi-automatic segmentation methods with different types of user interactions, named the “strokes” and the “contour”, to provide insights into the role and impact of human-computer interaction. Two physicians participated in the experiment. In total, 42 case studies were carried out on five different types of organs at risk. For each case study, both the human-computer interaction process and quality of the segmentation results were measured subjectively and objectively. Furthermore, different measures of the process and the results were correlated. A total of 36 quantifiable and ten non-quantifiable correlations were identified for each type of interaction. Among those pairs of measures, 20 of the contour method and 22 of the strokes method were strongly or moderately correlated, either directly or inversely. Based on those correlated measures, it is concluded that: (1) in the design of semi-automatic segmentation methods, user interactions need to be less cognitively challenging; (2) based on the observed workflows and preferences of physicians, there is a need for flexibility in the interface design; (3) the correlated measures provide insights that can be used in improving user interaction design.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-277
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Digital Imaging
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Radiotherapy
  • Organs at risk
  • Semi-automatic
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Evaluation
  • Correlations


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