An enhanced random walk algorithm for delineation of head and neck cancers in PET studies

Alessandro Stefano, Roberto Pirrone, Edoardo Ardizzone, Orazio Gambino, Salvatore Vitabile, Maria Carla Gilardi, Alessandro Stefano, Giorgio Russo, Massimo Ippolito, Daniele Sardina, Daniele Sardina, Daniele Sardina, Maria Gabriella Sabini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


An algorithm for delineating complex head and neck cancers in positron emission tomography (PET) images is presented in this article. An enhanced random walk (RW) algorithm with automatic seed detection is proposed and used to make the segmentation process feasible in the event of inhomogeneous lesions with bifurcations. In addition, an adaptive probability threshold and a k-means based clustering technique have been integrated in the proposed enhanced RW algorithm. The new threshold is capable of following the intensity changes between adjacent slices along the whole cancer volume, leading to an operator-independent algorithm. Validation experiments were first conducted on phantom studies: High Dice similarity coefficients, high true positive volume fractions, and low Hausdorff distance confirm the accuracy of the proposed method. Subsequently, forty head and neck lesions were segmented in order to evaluate the clinical feasibility of the proposed approach against the most common segmentation algorithms. Experimental results show that the proposed algorithm is more accurate and robust than the most common algorithms in the literature. Finally, the proposed method also shows real-time performance, addressing the physician’s requirements in a radiotherapy environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)897-908
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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