Medical Physics Unit, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria Careggi
External beam radiotherapy consists of irradiating patients with photon, electron or particle beams that deliver a quantity of energy (radiation dose) sufficient to destroy tumor cells in a delineated target. Dose distributions are delivered in such a way that organs near the target organ are isolated from radiation exposure as much as possible. The dose distribution is patient-specific and it is designed by medical physicists using specialized commercial programs (treatment planning systems, TPS) on the patient CT or MR scans where radiation oncologists have delineated organs and target contours. The whole process is time-consuming and the quality of the result is highly dependent on user ability and time availability. Automation of both organ contouring and treatment planning steps provide high-quality standardized treatments where variability among patients and planners are considerably reduced. Automatic planning and automated segmentation solutions have been recently proposed and implemented by some research groups and several TPS or image processing platform vendors. In addition, automation can be utilized to perform aggregate analyses on large numbers of patients, expediting the knowledge of side effects due to doses delivered to healthy tissues and making these analyses part of the clinical practice. The spread of automation techniques employed in radiation therapy can help to standardize and optimize the quality of the treatment plans created in different centers and makes it possible to compare them directly. This collection aims to compile such automation techniques in one convenient location for physicians to view.