Electroporation-based treatment planning for deep-seated tumors based on automatic liver segmentation of MRI images.
ABSTRACT: Electroporation is the phenomenon that occurs when a cell is exposed to a high electric field, which causes transient cell membrane permeabilization. A paramount electroporation-based application is electrochemotherapy, which is performed by delivering high-voltage electric pulses that enable the chemotherapeutic drug to more effectively destroy the tumor cells. Electrochemotherapy can be used for treating deep-seated metastases (e.g. in the liver, bone, brain, soft tissue) using variable-geometry long-needle electrodes. To treat deep-seated tumors, patient-specific treatment planning of the electroporation-based treatment is required. Treatment planning is based on generating a 3D model of the organ and target tissue subject to electroporation (i.e. tumor nodules). The generation of the 3D model is done by segmentation algorithms. We implemented and evaluated three automatic liver segmentation algorithms: region growing, adaptive threshold, and active contours (snakes). The algorithms were optimized using a seven-case dataset manually segmented by the radiologist as a training set, and finally validated using an additional four-case dataset that was previously not included in the optimization dataset. The presented results demonstrate that patient's medical images that were not included in the training set can be successfully segmented using our three algorithms. Besides electroporation-based treatments, these algorithms can be used in applications where automatic liver segmentation is required.
Project description:Magnetic resonance electrical impedance tomography (MREIT) was recently proposed for determining electric field distribution during electroporation in which cell membrane permeability is temporary increased by application of an external high electric field. The method was already successfully applied for reconstruction of electric field distribution in agar phantoms. Before the next step towards in vivo experiments is taken, monitoring of electric field distribution during electroporation of ex vivo tissue ex vivo and feasibility for its use in electroporation based treatments needed to be evaluated. Sequences of high voltage pulses were applied to chicken liver tissue in order to expose it to electric field which was measured by means of MREIT. MREIT was also evaluated for its use in electroporation based treatments by calculating electric field distribution for two regions, the tumor and the tumor-liver region, in a numerical model based on data obtained from clinical study on electrochemotherapy treatment of deep-seated tumors. Electric field distribution inside tissue was successfully measured ex vivo using MREIT and significant changes of tissue electrical conductivity were observed in the region of the highest electric field. A good agreement was obtained between the electric field distribution obtained by MREIT and the actual electric field distribution in evaluated regions of a numerical model, suggesting that implementation of MREIT could thus enable efficient detection of areas with insufficient electric field coverage during electroporation based treatments, thus assuring the effectiveness of the treatment.
Project description:Electroporation-based treatments rely on increasing the permeability of the cell membrane by high voltage electric pulses applied to tissue via electrodes. To ensure that the whole tumor is covered with sufficiently high electric field, accurate numerical models are built based on individual patient anatomy. Extraction of patient's anatomy through segmentation of medical images inevitably produces some errors. In order to ensure the robustness of treatment planning, it is necessary to evaluate the potential effect of such errors on the electric field distribution. In this work we focus on determining the effect of errors in automatic segmentation of hepatic vessels on the electric field distribution in electroporation-based treatments in the liver. First, a numerical analysis was performed on a simple 'sphere and cylinder' model for tumors and vessels of different sizes and relative positions. Second, an analysis of two models extracted from medical images of real patients in which we introduced variations of an error of the automatic vessel segmentation method was performed. The results obtained from a simple model indicate that ignoring the vessels when calculating the electric field distribution can cause insufficient coverage of the tumor with electric fields. Results of this study indicate that this effect happens for small (10 mm) and medium-sized (30 mm) tumors, especially in the absence of a central electrode inserted in the tumor. The results obtained from the real-case models also show higher negative impact of automatic vessel segmentation errors on the electric field distribution when the central electrode is absent. However, the average error of the automatic vessel segmentation did not have an impact on the electric field distribution if the central electrode was present. This suggests the algorithm is robust enough to be used in creating a model for treatment parameter optimization, but with a central electrode.
Project description:Irreversible electroporation and electrochemotherapy are 2 innovative electroporation-based minimally invasive therapies for the treatment of cancer. Combining nonthermal effects of irreversible electroporation with local application of chemotherapy, electrochemotherapy is an established treatment modality for skin malignancies. Since the application of electrochemotherapy in solid organs is a promising approach, this article describes a novel electrode configuration and field generating method. For the treatment of hepatic malignancies, the shape of the electric field should resemble a spherical 3-dimensional geometry around the target tissue inside the liver. To adapt the actual shape of the field, the probe is designed in computer-aided design with a live link to a computer simulation software: Changes in design can be revalued quickly, regarding different quality criteria for field strength inside and outside the tumor. To rate these criteria, a set of formulas with weighting coefficients has been included. As a result of this design process, a needle-shaped prototype applicator has been built, designed for an intracorporal electroporation-based treatment. It can be used as percutaneous, image-guided, minimally invasive treatment option for malignant liver tumors. The shaft of the probe is used as central electrode and fitted with additional 4 expandable electrodes. These satellite electrodes are hollow, thus serving as injectors for chemotherapeutic agents within the area of the electric field. This configuration can be used for electrochemotherapy as well as irreversible electroporation. By placing 5 electrodes with just one needle, the procedure duration as well as the radiation dose can be reduced tremendously. Additionally, the probe offers an option to adapt the field geometry to the tumor geometry by connecting the 5 electrodes to 5 individually chosen electric potentials: By fine-tuning the ablation zone via the potentials instead of adjusting the location of the electrode(s), the procedure duration as well as the radiation dose will decrease further.
Project description:Electrochemotherapy is a local treatment of cancer employing electric pulses to improve transmembrane transfer of cytotoxic drugs. In this paper we discuss electrochemotherapy from the perspective of biomedical engineering and review the steps needed to move such a treatment from initial prototypes into clinical practice. In the paper also basic theory of electrochemotherapy and preclinical studies in vitro and in vivo are briefly reviewed. Following this we present a short review of recent clinical publications and discuss implementation of electrochemotherapy into standard of care for treatment of skin tumors, and use of electrochemotherapy for other targets such as head and neck cancer, deep-seated tumors in the liver and intestinal tract, and brain metastases. Electrodes used in these specific cases are presented with their typical voltage amplitudes used in electrochemotherapy. Finally, key points on what should be investigated in the future are presented and discussed.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Electrochemotherapy treats tumors by combining specific chemotherapeutic drugs with an intracellular target and electric pulses, which increases drug uptake into the tumor cells. Electrochemotherapy has been successfully used for treatment of easily accessible superficial tumor nodules. In this paper, we present the first case of deep-seated tumor electrochemotherapy based on numerical treatment planning. METHODS: The aim of our study was to treat a melanoma metastasis in the thigh of a patient. Treatment planning for electrode positioning and electrical pulse parameters was performed for two different electrode configurations: one with four and another with five long needle electrodes. During the procedure, the four electrode treatment plan was adopted and the patient was treated accordingly by electrochemotherapy with bleomycin. The response to treatment was clinically and radiographically evaluated. Due to a partial response of the treated tumor, the metastasis was surgically removed after 2 months and pathological analysis was performed. RESULTS: A partial response of the tumor to electrochemotherapy was obtained. Histologically, the metastasis showed partial necrosis due to electrochemotherapy, estimated to represent 40-50% of the tumor. Based on the data obtained, we re-evaluated the electrical treatment parameters in order to correlate the treatment plan with the clinical response. Electrode positions in the numerical model were updated according to the actual positions during treatment. We compared the maximum value of the measured electric current with the current predicted by the model and good agreement was obtained. Finally, tumor coverage with an electric field above the reversible threshold was recalculated and determined to be approximately 94%. Therefore, according to the calculations, a small volume of tumor cells remained viable after electrochemotherapy, and these were sufficient for tumor regrowth. CONCLUSIONS: In this, the first reported clinical case, deep-seated melanoma metastasis in the thigh of the patient was treated by electrochemotherapy, according to a treatment plan obtained by numerical modeling and optimization. Although only a partial response was obtained, the presented work demonstrates that treatment of deep-seated tumor nodules by electrochemotherapy is feasible and sets the ground for numerical treatment planning-based electrochemotherapy. TRIAL REGISTRATION: EudraCT:2008-008290-54.
Project description:Electrochemotherapy is now in development for treatment of deep-seated tumors, like in bones and internal organs, such as liver. The technology is available with a newly developed electric pulse generator and long needle electrodes; however the procedures for the treatment are not standardized yet. In order to describe the treatment procedure, including treatment planning, within the ongoing clinical study, a case of successful treatment of a solitary metastasis in the liver of colorectal cancer is presented. The procedure was performed intraoperatively by inserting long needle electrodes, two in the center of the tumor and four around the tumor into the normal tissue. The insertion of electrodes proved to be feasible and was done according to the treatment plan, prepared by numerical modeling. After intravenous bolus injection of bleomycin the tumor was exposed to electric pulses. The delivery of the electric pulses did not interfere with functioning of the heart, since the pulses were synchronized with electrocardiogram in order to be delivered outside the vulnerable period of the ventricles. Also the post treatment period was uneventful without side effects. Re-operation of the treated metastasis demonstrated feasibility of the reoperation, without secondary effects of electrochemotherapy on normal tissue. Good antitumor effectiveness with complete tumor destruction was confirmed with histological analysis. The patient is disease-free 16 months after the procedure. In conclusion, treatment procedure for electrochemotherapy proved to be a feasible technological approach for treatment of liver metastasis. Due to the absence of the side effects and the first complete destruction of the treated tumor, treatment procedure for electrochemotherapy seems to be a safe method for treatment of liver metastases with good treatment effectiveness even in difficult-to-reach locations.
Project description:Reversible electroporation is used to increase the uptake of chemotherapeutic drugs in local tumor treatment (electrochemotherapy) by applying the pulsing protocol (8 rectangular pulses, 1000 V/cm, 100 µs) standardized in the framework of the European Standard Operating Procedure on Electrochemotherapy multicenter trial. Currently, new electrochemotherapy strategies are under development to extend its applicability to tumors with different histology. Electrical parameters and drug type are critical factors. A possible approach is to test pulse parameters different from European Standard Operating Procedure on Electrochemotherapy but with comparable electroporation yield (European Standard Operating Procedure on Electrochemotherapy-equivalent protocols). Moreover, the use of non-toxic drugs combined with electroporation represents the new frontier for electrochemotherapy applications; calcium electroporation has been recently proposed as a simple tool for anticancer therapy. In vitro investigations facilitate the optimization of electrical parameters and drugs for in vivo and clinical testing. In this optimization study, new pulsing protocols have been tested by increasing the pulse number and reducing the electric field with respect to the standard. European Standard Operating Procedure on Electrochemotherapy-equivalent protocols have been identified in HL-60 and A431 cancer cell models, and a higher sensitivity in terms of electroporation yield has been recorded in HL-60 cells. Moreover, cell killing efficacy of European Standard Operating Procedure on Electrochemotherapy-equivalent protocols has been demonstrated in the presence of increasing calcium concentrations on both cell lines. Equivalent European Standard Operating Procedure on Electrochemotherapy protocols can be used to optimize the therapeutic effects in the clinic, where different regions of the same cancer tissue, with different electrical properties, might result in a differential electroporation yield of the standard protocol over the same tissue, or, eventually, in an override of the operational limits of the instrument. Moreover, using calcium can help overcome the drawbacks of standard drugs (side effects, high costs, difficult handling, preparation, and storage procedures). These results support the possibility of new treatment options in both standard electrochemotherapy and calcium electroporation, with clear advantages in the clinic.
Project description:This study investigates the variation in segmentation of several pelvic anatomical structures on computed tomography (CT) between multiple observers and a commercial automatic segmentation method, in the context of quality assurance and evaluation during a multicentre clinical trial.CT scans of two prostate cancer patients ('benchmarking cases'), one high risk (HR) and one intermediate risk (IR), were sent to multiple radiotherapy centres for segmentation of prostate, rectum and bladder structures according to the TROG 03.04 "RADAR" trial protocol definitions. The same structures were automatically segmented using iPlan software for the same two patients, allowing structures defined by automatic segmentation to be quantitatively compared with those defined by multiple observers. A sample of twenty trial patient datasets were also used to automatically generate anatomical structures for quantitative comparison with structures defined by individual observers for the same datasets.There was considerable agreement amongst all observers and automatic segmentation of the benchmarking cases for bladder (mean spatial variations < 0.4 cm across the majority of image slices). Although there was some variation in interpretation of the superior-inferior (cranio-caudal) extent of rectum, human-observer contours were typically within a mean 0.6 cm of automatically-defined contours. Prostate structures were more consistent for the HR case than the IR case with all human observers segmenting a prostate with considerably more volume (mean +113.3%) than that automatically segmented. Similar results were seen across the twenty sample datasets, with disagreement between iPlan and observers dominant at the prostatic apex and superior part of the rectum, which is consistent with observations made during quality assurance reviews during the trial.This study has demonstrated quantitative analysis for comparison of multi-observer segmentation studies. For automatic segmentation algorithms based on image-registration as in iPlan, it is apparent that agreement between observer and automatic segmentation will be a function of patient-specific image characteristics, particularly for anatomy with poor contrast definition. For this reason, it is suggested that automatic registration based on transformation of a single reference dataset adds a significant systematic bias to the resulting volumes and their use in the context of a multicentre trial should be carefully considered.
Project description:Electrochemotherapy, a combination of high voltage electric pulses and of an anticancer drug, has been demonstrated to be highly effective in treatment of cutaneous and subcutaneous tumors. Unique properties of electrochemotherapy (e.g., high specificity for targeting cancer cells, high degree of localization of treatment effect, capacity for preserving the innate immune response and the structure of the extracellular matrix) are facilitating its wide spread in the clinics. Due to high effectiveness of electrochemotherapy in treatment of cutaneous and subcutaneous tumors regardless of histological origin, there are now attempts to extend its use to treatment of internal tumors. To advance the applicability of electrochemotherapy to treatment of internal solid tumors, new technological developments are needed that will enable treatment of these tumors in daily clinical practice. New electrodes through which electric pulses are delivered to target tissue need to be designed with the aim to access target tissue anywhere in the body. To increase the probability of complete tumor eradication, the electrodes have to be accurately positioned, first to provide an adequate extent of electroporation of all tumor cells and second not to damage critical healthy tissue or organs in its vicinity. This can be achieved by image guided insertion of electrodes that will enable accurate positioning of the electrodes in combination with patient-specific numerical treatment planning or using a predefined geometry of electrodes. In order to be able to use electrochemotherapy safely for treatment of internal tumors located in relative proximity of the heart (e.g., in case of liver metastases), the treatment must be performed without interfering with the heart's electrical activity. We describe recent technological advances, which allow treatment of liver and bone metastases, soft tissue sarcomas, brain tumors, and colorectal and esophageal tumors. The first clinical experiences in these novel application areas of electrochemotherapy are also described.
Project description:Correct segmentation is critical to many applications within automated microscopy image analysis. Despite the availability of advanced segmentation algorithms, variations in cell morphology, sample preparation, and acquisition settings often lead to segmentation errors. This manuscript introduces a ranked-retrieval approach using logistic regression to automate selection of accurately segmented nuclei from a set of candidate segmentations. The methodology is validated on an application of spatial gene repositioning in breast cancer cell nuclei. Gene repositioning is analyzed in patient tissue sections by labeling sequences with fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), followed by measurement of the relative position of each gene from the nuclear center to the nuclear periphery. This technique requires hundreds of well-segmented nuclei per sample to achieve statistical significance. Although the tissue samples in this study contain a surplus of available nuclei, automatic identification of the well-segmented subset remains a challenging task.Logistic regression was applied to features extracted from candidate segmented nuclei, including nuclear shape, texture, context, and gene copy number, in order to rank objects according to the likelihood of being an accurately segmented nucleus. The method was demonstrated on a tissue microarray dataset of 43 breast cancer patients, comprising approximately 40,000 imaged nuclei in which the HES5 and FRA2 genes were labeled with FISH probes. Three trained reviewers independently classified nuclei into three classes of segmentation accuracy. In man vs. machine studies, the automated method outperformed the inter-observer agreement between reviewers, as measured by area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve. Robustness of gene position measurements to boundary inaccuracies was demonstrated by comparing 1086 manually and automatically segmented nuclei. Pearson correlation coefficients between the gene position measurements were above 0.9 (p < 0.05). A preliminary experiment was conducted to validate the ranked retrieval in a test to detect cancer. Independent manual measurement of gene positions agreed with automatic results in 21 out of 26 statistical comparisons against a pooled normal (benign) gene position distribution.Accurate segmentation is necessary to automate quantitative image analysis for applications such as gene repositioning. However, due to heterogeneity within images and across different applications, no segmentation algorithm provides a satisfactory solution. Automated assessment of segmentations by ranked retrieval is capable of reducing or even eliminating the need to select segmented objects by hand and represents a significant improvement over binary classification. The method can be extended to other high-throughput applications requiring accurate detection of cells or nuclei across a range of biomedical applications.